I understand the terms and conditions WRT use of Google Earth imagery in external applications are strict.

Years ago ArcBruTile offered such service in ArcGIS the legallity of which was questionable. (Google Earth is imagery option was later removed) Bing imagery is still an option but I am not sure how this is possible if ESRI states that in order to use Bing imagery the service must be purchased from Microsoft.

Where can I find the terms and conditions of use of Google Earth imagery in QGIS as provided by the OpenLayers plugin?

I like the idea, i just want to make sure it's legal. Can i produce maps for professional use and publications with this plugin, etc.?

ANSWER: @Andre Joost pointed me to the answer. In short, this type of use is not permitted under Google's Terms of Service:

10.1 Restrictions on How You May Use the Maps API(s). Except as explicitly permitted in Section 8 (Licenses from Google to You) or the Maps APIs Documentation, you must not (nor may you permit anyone else to) do any of the following:

10.1.1. General Restrictions. (a) No Access to Maps API(s) except through the Service. You must not access or use the Maps API(s) or any Content through any technology or means other than those provided in the Service, or through other explicitly authorized means Google may designate. For example, you must not access map tiles or imagery through interfaces or channels (including undocumented Google interfaces) other than the Maps API(s).

  • I think one stipulation is that any data created by tracing a google map or satellite image is property of google, or something to that effect... Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 15:48
  • Thanks. @Andre pointed me to the answer. Basically such use is not permitted. Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


You can find a statement of the plugin author with a link to the terms of use here:

https://www.mail-archive.com/[email protected]/msg21665.html

Search for "you must not access map tiles" in the TOS (https://developers.google.com/maps/terms). That's why the OpenLayers plugin is using only the Javascript API with a WebKit Browser.

My opinion: If Google does not want you to use their service, just don't use it. There are plenty other possibilities, some even free of cost, like Openstreetmap.

  • Thanks "Using Google Maps via TMS URL's is against their TOS". It is not legal then. Agreed, in populated and "popular" areas of the worlds there are other options but not in even slightly remote locations in Canada - only google earth has partial coverage there. Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 16:16
  • For Canada, CanVec offers a lot of open data. For desert and djungle areas, I agree with you. The OL plugin does not use a TMS URL, but the JS API. So half legal, I think.
    – AndreJ
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 16:19
  • CanVec is vector data only, 1:50000. I use often use it for course maps. NRCAN offers no high resolution imagery. Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 16:23

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