This is an archived page of the Map Ransom. Donations are no longer being taken. Thanks. -jared

Map Ransom


Ransom Status

Help liberate over 56,000 digital USGS maps. Donate or purchase maps on DVD to meet the ransom demand. Once the $1600 ransom is met, all maps will be handed over to the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive will make every map available for free download forever!

Huh What?

I've purchased a 300 GB hard drive containing over 56,000, 1:24k scale digital topographic maps produced by the USGS. I'd like to make every map freely available for download over the Internet, but first I need to raise $1600 to cover the expense of purchasing the data. If the Ransom is exceeded, those additional funds will go towards liberating additional data.

You can donate or purchase maps on DVD now, and free these maps once and for all. Once the $1600 ransom is met, the maps will be made freely available for download thanks to the generous support of the Internet Archive.

If you are still dubious, keep reading, or jump down to the Frequently Asked Questions.


Ransom Status
Ransom raised: $1600.00+

A donation is the best way to Free the maps. It means I don't have to burn DVD's, buy shipping boxes, and postage. Once the ransom is reached, you'll be able to download all the maps you need.

Plus, if you donate $10 or more, your name will appear as a "Map Liberator" on Internet Archive's Liberated Map web page.

No longer taking donations

All donations are done securely through Paypal. If you don't have a Paypal account, you can still donate with a credit card.


You can also purchase these USGS Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) topographic maps on DVD. The prices are the cheapest on the Internet. Select the State you'd like to purchase from the list below and I'll mail you your very own DVD. Once Paypal takes its cut, all money will go towards meeting the ransom. Anyone who purchases a DVD set will get their name placed on the list of Map Liberators on the Internet Archive's Liberated Map web page.

All payments are done securely through Paypal. If you don't have a Paypal account, you can still purchase maps with a credit card.

More About the Maps

Download full size sample DRG Map (3.2 MB TIFF)

The maps being held ransom are highly detailed topographic maps made by the USGS. The maps show details of features such as mountains and rivers. They are great for planning outdoor expeditions, for research, or business projects. The maps were originally paper maps which have been scanned in by the USGS. They still contain the border collars and have been georeferenced for use in GIS applications.

The maps are Public Domain. This means, once they are liberated, you can download them from the Internet Archive and do whatever you wish with them. You can use them as a layer to a new open source Google Maps successor, or just look at a few to plan your next backpacking trip.

Viewing the Maps

The maps are in TIFF format. You can view them in any image viewing application that supports TIFF. Each map also includes metadata files which allow GIS applications to georeference the map.

The USGS provides a free application called dlgv32 Pro for viewing maps. A more advanced commercial version called GlobalMapper is also available.

Who's Behind these Shenanigans?

Hard Drive at gun pointMy name is Jared. Two and half years ago I was looking for topographic maps to plan a bike ride. I was surprised to find that to get access to the Public Domain digital maps, I had to buy them from the USGS, or one of their business partners... and they weren't cheap. I thought this was silly, so I attempted contacting the USGS to get access to this Public Domain data for free. First through proposal of cooperation, then through Freedom of Information Act requests. While failing with both routes, I started the Libre Map Project. I began collecting these digital maps bit by bit, and making them Freely available for download via the Internet.

I got great feedback from hikers, college professors, municipal workers, geocachers, and many many others. However, progress was slow, and the map data was inconsistent and incomplete. So I cooked up this idea to buy all the maps from a USGS business partner, and hold them hostage until enough people chipped in to cover the costs to truly liberate the maps once and for all. I hope you will help me free the maps!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Isn't this data already available on the Internet?

A: Many DRG's are available for download on the Internet. In fact, for the last 2.5 years, my site has been one of the more popular places to download them. However, there is no one central and stable repository of every DRG map. Because there are so many different web sites hosting bits and pieces of this data, it is often difficult to find.

When you do find it, there is often missing data, the files are difficult to download, or the site may use non-standard naming conventions for the files. In addition, there are still a significant number of States that have no DRG's available for free download.

Once these maps are liberated, every single one will be freely available from one central place. Once that happens, derivative uses can start to occur.

Q: Is there some sort of hidden profit motive?

A: Nope. I just strongly believe that whenever possible, information should be made Free. Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, has long argued that it is now possible to put the sum of all human knowledge on the Internet. I've tried to do my part by contributing to projects like Wikipedia, the Free Software movement , and Creative Commons. This Map project is my small contribution to the effort of making information freely available to anyone who might find it useful. By contributing to the project, you are showing your support for the freedom of information. Once the ransom is met, the data is handed over to the Internet Archive where it will be free to anyone forever.

Q: Are the maps in any danger?

A: The maps are comfortable. I have them tied up and blindfolded, but they are fed regularly and given several bathroom breaks a day. I have no intention of harming the maps. Just meet the ransom, and no maps get hurt.

Still have questions? Email: maps <at> redjar <dot> org

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