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All Mapped Out

I don’t know whether to be honoured, or pissed off … but it seems like these pages have finally got some form of ‘recognition’ – albeit negative.

On my webpages here, I host a collection of alternative & ‘silly’ tube maps.

Also, all over the rest of my website, the LU roundel is used, mainly because of the fact that I talk about the tube challenge and the fact that I hold the world record for going round the entire system in the quickest time possible.

On Wednesday of this week, I received the following email:

Dear Geoff

This firm acts for Transport for London and Transport Trading Limited who are respectively the owner and licensee of the world-famous bar and circle device (“the Roundel”) and the Tube Map.

I would like to talk to you about your website Unfortunately, I was unable to trace a telephone number for you on the site, hence the email.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience (my direct line details are below).

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

[name removed]
Commercial Department

I read it. Re-read it. Made a cup of tea. Wondered how clueless you have to be to not realise that people with personal webpages tend not to give out their phone numbers on their websites, and then decided to call them up instead and have a friendly ‘chat’.

I actually thought it was a bit strange that they would want to conduct this via telephone where no records could be kept which they could do with either email or on a paper letter, but it would seem that that’s what they wanted to do.

So I got directly through to the solicitor used by TFL and we spoke pleasantly for about ten minutes, whilst I rather (pointlessly?) argued my case whilst they said lots of things referring to “My Client” (meaning TFL) which always makes me chuckle under my breath as it sounds so fucking poncy.

The long and the short of it is, is that I can’t afford any legal representation to argue this one, so when I said “What will you do if I don’t remove the images that you want taken down?” they said that they would get my site taken down for me.

So at the moment, I have “by Monday” (which led to another fun email exchange shortly after as we argued exactly what time on Monday ‘by Monday’ meant), to remove all the ‘offending’ maps that are on this page here, meaning that if you want copies, then go and grab them now.

It’s mainly the silly & alternative maps which are causing offence – but there are a few other graphics on other pages that they’re not happy with.

These though are the same things which have been circulating the internet for the last ten years, and will continue to circulate around as people email them to their mates saying “Have you seen this?”. In fact, I recommend you go and take copies now and forward them round all your friends in an effort to distribute them furthur.

Maybe then someone else will decide to host them, and TFL and their solicitors can spend all their time continually playing catch up on people who decide to put them on their website.

So I’ve decided : I’m pissed off. Of course I am. Why? Well I’m not stupid, so before you all comment “Well you have just nicked their stuff Geoff, it was going to happen sooner or later”, consider this:

* Why me? Why now? Geofftech and the tube has been on the internet for five years now, and I’m not alone in using ‘the roundel’ logo and other such tube graphics. I’ve just done a very simple search this morning, and found 43 other sites within half an hour that have also ‘stolen’ the graphic. Are they being contacted as well?

Tube Relief* I think it’s unreasonable for them to ask me to remove each and every mention/roundel/whatever because we got permission for it (during TubeRelief – August of 2005) at which point and time they therefore must of known of me and my efforts and this indicates tacit agreement to useage.

* The majority of the usage falls under fair use provisions in copyright law.

* I’m not making any money from it and as far as I’m concerned, am helping to promote LU and TFL and have given them lots of FREE and GOOD publicity in the past. Right now, I don’t feel like saying anything nice about them.

I also want to know if they’re chasing people/websites/companies that ARE using their logo in a commerical business.

I can understand if they ‘went’ after people who pinched their logo and used it for their commerical business. i.e Waterloo Records – a music shop in Austin, Texas – are they being nobbled, or are they licensed to use it?

There is also ‘Westminster Pies’ in Durban, South Africa – which blantantly nicks the sign.

There is a sandwich shop called ‘Lunch Station’ in Sheffield which uses the roundel. Did they get that licensed? And I also once recall seeing a fashion shop in Manchester that used the logo.

So – [name of lawyer] why aren’t you “acting on behalf of my client” and contacting them? These are people that are using the roundel as part of a commerical business – unlike me, the little man, with a personal website – the easy target for you, right?

I pay money out of my own pocket to host my site, and talk about the tube in a positive, healthy way. I love the tube, it’s a classic system, part of Londons culture, and I’ve always tried to be positive about it – and here’s what I get back in return.

I’m also quite clearly promoting it by saying ‘Look, you can do it all in a day if you’re mad enough‘, and now they want to take me down? Bastards.

So TFL – go pick on someone that IS making money out of you, or is slagging you off. As I think you’re shooting yourself in the foot on this one as there will be a backlash against you.

As this (might!) be your last chance to visit the page, go it here and download them while you can.

And perhaps either email them round to all your friends, or host them yourself !?

209 responses to “All Mapped Out”

  1. geofftech says:

    Right, well I’m about to be on Radio 5 Live right now … !

  2. pixeldiva says:

    Well, more like now.

  3. geofftech says:

    Yay!! They edited out all my shit bits except for one .. i sounded quite good!

  4. Another Chris says:

    Here’s that piece again for anyone that missed it …

  5. geofftech says:

    Thanks Chris! (whoever you are!) Gonna blog it & upload the MP3 myself anyway as new post tomorrow, but ta!

  6. Hamish Grant says:

    I’m also hosting the maps on my blog. Cheers, dude.

  7. […] “This firm acts for Transport for London and Transport Trading Limited who are respectively the owner and licensee of the world-famous bar and circle device (’the Roundel’) and the Tube Map.” Yet another situation where a company instructs its attorneys to sue a fan site into oblivion. I swear, I’ll never understand it. (tags: subway) […]

  8. Hrishikesh says:

    One more mirror (in the HUGE list)

  9. I can’t say i unerstand why the geographically accurate map has gone? On what grounds did they object to that?

  10. Neil says:

    Well, it’s gone 9am in the offices of Twat, Dick and Wanker, Solicitors.

    I wonder if they’re sending you an email right now telling you that you’re about to be taken to court …

  11. mark says:

    Have they really nowt better to do than hassle you?? Comical!! Keep up the good work fella.

  12. Sue Mitchell says:

    I was so angry when I came across this story a week or so ago that I posted this on my site:
    **Don’t you just hate spoilsports…?**

    Especially when they’re big corporate
    bully boys picking on the little guy?

    The story behind this little hissy fit:

    Rod found an interesting link to a version of the London Underground map. Some smart person had produced a map in which all the stations’ names appeared as anagrams. Very clever, very funny.

    Unfortunately T.P.T.B. were unimpressed. They took such a dim view of this person’s efforts that the next time I went to the site, the map was gone and this message was in its place.

    Content removed at the request of
    Healeys Solicitors acting on behalf
    of Transport for London
    and Transport Trading Ltd

    But Rod’s managed to track down another copy of the anagram map and you can view the full-size map here:
    I’ve also made a little icon with my own personal message to TFL and their solicitors which is posted beside this rant and you’re welcome to use it. {veg}

    Best wishes,
    Sue – totally unimpressed by TFL and their legal beagles.

  13. Zeibura says:

    gosh, because you were such a threat to TFL and LU weren’t you. of course people are going to stop using the tube and giving them money if you had these maps on your website. of course they had to threaten you with legal action. you were a dangerous threat to their company!

    all together now, “london underground, theyre all lazy fucking useless cunts!”

  14. Hmm – are they going to go after The Tate, then?

    Simon Patterson’s The Great Bear was painted in 1992 – has he been sued yet?

  15. Yet another mirror has appeared on my Google Pages space. No idea how that happened.

  16. Fimb says:

    For requests under Freedom of Information act you should email

    This is incase you would like to ask how much was spent last quarter on “cease and desist” notices. Or a list of non-commercial sites that received the cease and desist notices, or how much Bob Crowe spent on prawn sandwiches, or how many pairs of shoes are allocated to each employee..

    You get the idea 🙂

  17. Camilla says:

    i can’t work out how to make the images appear, of course as any member of the public could post on my wiki they could get put there…

  18. muppet says:

    What a pompous, joyless, idiotic behemoth of a bureaucratic waste of space some twonk at TfL has clearly been.

    Intellectual property was never my area, sad to say, otherwise this particular member of the legal community would quite happily have provided a bit of pro bono advice.

    I found my way here through a completely unrelated site on which a link to a puzzle of one of the silly tubemaps had been posted (a site which a friend of mine also frequents who did the Tube Challenge last year. In fact, two of my friends did it – best not forget that or I will be in schtuck).

    Best advice: if you communicate with their lawyers again, do it in writing, make sure it’s all recordable. If they insist on phones, record the conversation or else put it on speakerphone and get someone to take notes for you. (Shades of Sir Ian Blair there, potentially, but never mind).

    Good luck!!

  19. burntool says:

    Well, it stinks, and I downloaded all your great stuff this morning so I’m hosting it myself. People will obviously have to find it though as I am sure you will be obliged to divulge the identity of anyone you know to be mirroring your site.

  20. margie says:

    Here in Toronto, the local transit commission (cleverly calling themselves the “Toronto Transit Commission” or TTC for short) has pulled a similar trick on, a fan site for the miserable bastards who had done up a wonderful anagram routemap.

    Although the TTC has been falling apart for years, with declining service and increasing fares, this is still how they choose to spend their time. Wankers.

    See for yourself over at

  21. geofftech says:

    Burntool – why not just put a general link in here, not a specific one to your mirror?

  22. Jon Choo says:

    Hi Geoff, just heard bout what happened at the pub today. Good luck in the case against TFL, they deserve a kicking after all we went through during Tube Relief.

  23. ob1 says:

    I read somewhere that with some html trickery you can serve a different version of a website depending on where the requestor was coming from. So, anyone surfing to your sillytube page from we’reabunchoflawyers.tu.tfl.whatever would see a nice clean “no roundels here” page, but everyone else would see whatever is really there. Of course, that trick only works on stupid people…

  24. All very depressing isn’t it.

    Tried to do my bit by getting the word, and the maps, out to a larger audience.

    This part (from the underground history Wiki page) had me amazed…

    “This approach is similar to that of electrical circuit diagrams; while these weren’t the inspiration for Beck’s diagram, his colleagues pointed out the similarities and he once produced a joke map with the stations replaced by electrical-circuit symbols and names with terminology: “bakelite” for “Bakerloo”, etc.”

    The main man would have submitted designs for you to host too Geoff!

  25. zuzula says:

    mate, i can’t believe this. it’s fucking mad! especially when you’ve basically waged a 5 year PR campaign for them.

    I’ve actually refunded my annual travel card and am going to use my car and taxis instead.


    i’m furious!

  26. Murray says:

    Another response from a London Assembly member (via which I would again encourage you all to use and drop a note to your London Assembly member).

    > This seems an over-the-top response from TfL. I can
    > table a formal question to the Mayor although the
    > next opportunity to table questions
    > will not be until after the May local elections.
    > Darren
    > Cllr. Darren Johnson AM
    > Green Party Group
    > London Assembly

    If a few more people write to their representatives, there is more chance of this being raised, and more chance that something useful might get down via the Assembly.

  27. Oddly, the files have mysteriously made their way into my local Apache htdocs. Wonder how that happened. They’re sitting on the end of an ADSL connection, however, so responses may be slow

  28. *kicks the blog software* You’ll notice that there’s no link to the aforementioned site in the previous comment.

  29. Stuart says:

    Might be worth trying Ken directly when he next appears on a LBC or BBC London phone-in. He gives quite open and clear responses to callers problems, and I’m sure he would be more sympathetic than TfL (not that that would be difficult!)

  30. Miffed of Middlesex says:

    Well, what a complete waste of time and presumably money on TfL’s part.

    If I didn’t hold a Freedom Pass, I would have to conduct a COBA on all my future use of the Underground, in protest at this.

    Still, at least I can whine even more loudly now when the Rent Horn line plays up on my journeys between Candle Oil and Nabk.

  31. Paul says:

    Why not just host your site in the US, cite Freedom of Speech and then tell them to Go Fuck themselves ?

  32. Stefan says:

    As I noted to the author of an opinion piece on The Register (yep Geoff, you’re on El Reg), some of the maps are exceptionally useful (like the walking map, the time between stations map, the loo map etc) and I wouldn’t consider those an issue… if anything, they make the Tube easier to use! But hey… lawyers will be lawyers.

  33. Copyright law is copyright law and it means the holders can enforce it how they please, if that means taking it down from a public/popular site[1] then its up to them. If it was trademark, from my understanding, they would have to go after everyone.

    However, copyright law also is only valid for the lifetime of the holder (70 years) and I’m pretty sure that cannot be renewed; even when the rights are sold on. If you dupe *only* the original 1931 design[2] and add manually updates to it from an independent copyright-free source[3], they should not be able to do a thing.

    At that point I’m sure TFL cannot do a thing as its not theirs and the original copyright has expired. If they insist after that, write a detailed letter to Ken Livingstone explaining your situation and how you feel TFL are wasting resources (our taxpayers money in the subsidies we give them and the tickets we purchase) on ‘image protection’ and using empty threats to remove material they they do not officially control….he should be able to help. Do not be abrahsive with him, you will be ignored, be neutral in tone in the letter, but express your dispointment in the manner the situation has be handled. This should only be done *after* you have sent a letter to TFL and received an unsatisifactly response…Ken is not going to be interested if you have not gone through the proper channels.

    The issue here is that you *are* using their copyrighted material, fairness has nothing to do with it although its obvious that TFL’s manglement are being shortsighted. If you do not use copyrighted material then no-one can clobber you for doing so.

    Just my £0.02…



    [1] and no deep pockets to complain
    [3] probably best to not use the offical maps as a source, just redo the *whole* underground again (try to beat your record 😉 and build your own ‘source’

  34. To me it seems a waste of public money.

  35. Flying Turtle says:

    It occurs to me that if all those who commented here wrote a letter to the solicitors in question asking for their reasoning on the matter and requesting that they inform their clients of the content of each letter and the disagreement with this act that the resulting legal fees for the replies, contact with the client etc. would run very high. I would be surprised if 188 letters couldn’t generate 200,000 in fees. This might put the actions in perspective for TFL and cause them to stick to bothering the people actually ripping them off. They could just as easily have asked you to put a note on the site saying something like “images used with permission of TFL” which would have been more sensible and probably met their needs.

  36. Chris says:

    #187 Copyright is valid for 70 years after death. However, the copyright of the tube map would fall to TfL now – it can be transfered. My understanding is that Copyright of the current map would include all versions up to and including it.

  37. The Gorilla says:

    ahhh… the cycle of bureaucracy. You don’t run a good business by picking on people that surport and give recommendations too. It’s there loss in the end. If I where a lawyer I would support you mate!

  38. Geoff, you have my comiserations.
    LT (they will always be LT to me) are getting really stuck up their own arses over this.
    Looks like someone over there has had a common sense failure. What a bunch of grey suited cunts they must be.

    Spotted that you were `in trouble` when I looked at The Register` yesterday. Hope it all gets sorted in your favour.

  39. Jon Allen says:

    Hi Geoff,
    I emailed TFL from their site and got this reply :


    Thank you for your email.

    We asked the creator of these map variations to withdraw them from their website simply because they did not have our permission to use it. It should be noted that they were happy to comply with our request.

    In general, we do not allow the Tube map to be published with changes to the official version. There are several reasons for this:

    It is a working map designed to help passengers navigate around the Tube system and we do not want people to be confused by multiple versions.

    If we allow multiple versions to exist, it weakens TfL’s legal claim to the map being TfL property.

    The map is a design classic and worldwide icon for the Tube and London. It is an excellent example of London Underground’s famous design heritage which is still useful and relevant today. As such, TfL has a duty to protect it and ensure it is used in a respectful manner.

    However, very occasionally, we will grant permission to publish an altered version but various factors are considered before granting permission. These include whether or not the altered version causes any damage to the TfL brand – ie: whether it contradicts any TfL policies; whether it causes offence to our passengers; whether is it for a good cause.


    Matthew Bland
    Transport for London

    which doesn’t make much sense to me,
    but then none of this stuff ever does!

  40. What do those democratically accountable for TfL, the Mayor and London Assembly, have to say about this nonsense? If I can do anything to raise this at a political level please ask.

  41. Why are all the tubechallenge pages down (404 errors) too? Surely the TfL mafia can’t object to them?

  42. Chris says:

    Geoff will correct me on this I’m sure, but I think he took it down to be on the safe side.

  43. geofftech says:

    I was so fucked off with the whole thing, I took ALL of my tube pages down, yes. They are now back though – but looking messy and hacked to pieces.

    I’ll tidy them up one day if I can be bothered, but don’t expect that anytime soon. I’m too fucked off wiht the whole thing, and have got better things going on in my life to be spending my time on at the moment than worrying about shit like this.

  44. Pete says:

    Re: email in #194

    Geofftech isn’t the creator of the maps, they are going after the wrong man… and he certainly isn’t happy to comply with the request!

  45. Chris says:

    This post is a record. No blog post of Geoff’s before has had more than 200 comments.

    TfL are never going to manage to take down every copy of the maps. The website is not even based in the UK and so TfL would have trouble attacking them.

  46. Steve 'WeaselBoy' says:

    I think the ‘rude map’ is going to be very popular after this, it seems to make more sense now. Maybe it was just ahead of it’s time (match the rude names with those who run the company). Anywho, your not filthy stinking rich so your busted, but keep on smiling (they really hate the look of smiling faces). 😀
    One can only hope that in the near future someone even richer than they sues them for something similar (like in the beginning of THHGTTU, by Douglas Adam).

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