NEWS11 October 2011

Nielsen’s DMA maps are copyright protected, says judge

Legal North America

US— An Illinois judge has ruled that Nielsen has a valid copyright claim for its designated market area (DMAs) maps which it accuses outdoor advertising firm Truck Ads of copying.

Nielsen took action against Truck Ads in 2008, alleging that the outdoor advertising agency was unlawfully using its DMA maps in its work. Truck Ads argued that the maps depict facts and ideas that have been wholly or partially copied or are in the public domain so lack the originality needed to merit copyright protection.

However in ruling on both parties’ requests for summary judgement, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said that the regional boundaries of DMA maps – which divide the USA into 210 distinct regions for the purposes of TV measurement – are “protectable elements”. But the issue of whether Truck Ads actually copied the Nielsen maps “is a jury question”, Judge Pallmeyer said.

Nielsen’s motion was granted in part and denied in part, while Truck Ads’ motion was denied.