Quote of the Day - A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.
When you view a colored map of the United States on a website and then click on a particular state to find the subject matter available in that website, do you believe you're using copyrightable materials? The United States Copyright Office doesn't think so, and neither does the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
But in case you're looking for the standard on how to determine whether a technical drawing is copyrightable, here it is: "[i]n order to be copyrightable, a work of the visual arts must contain a minimum amount of pictorial, graphic, or sculptural authorship" and "[c]opyright does not protect familiar shapes, symbols, and designs . . . [or] mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, fonts, or coloring," as quoted by the Court in its opinion.
In other words, to be copyrighted, it has to be unique. A map of the United States isn't that unique, and therefore doesn't qualify.
Try telling that to the National Geographic cartography division.