NEWSFLASH (7/25/2013) MapPLUTO is now free and available for download direct from the Department of City Planning.
Why free MapPLUTO?
Although a lot of city data is online and free to access, and a new city law requires all public data be made available to download by 2018, the Department of City Planning charges a hefty price for the use of MapPLUTO. MapPLUTO costs $300 per borough, and $1,500 for all five, and users must pay for a new license every six months. To have MapPLUTO current for the whole city costs $3000 per year. For more information, check out this New York World article, or this blog post by Steven Romalewski, the Director of CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research.
Real estate developers, urban planners, architects, and engineers all make extensive use of MapPLUTO. However, the dataset is also incredibly useful to schools, organizations, and residents seeking information about land in the city, and many of these groups and individuals cannot afford City Planning’s fees.
MapPLUTO is a public database produced using public resources -- it is made from public information on City Department computers by people who are paid a salary by New Yorkers. We think that MapPLUTO should be free and open to everyone. Luckily, there’s a way to access it without paying hundreds of dollars.
How can I help free MapPLUTO?
You can help by getting MapPLUTO from the Department of City Planning without paying their licensing fees. Because Planning is a City Agency, it is subject to Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). If you submit a FOIL request for MapPLUTO, Planning is legally required to provide you with a copy. According to the Committee on Open Government, this kind of data is defined as “government records” under the FOIL, and government records are meant to be accessible to anyone who asks to see them.
How much will this cost me?
Planning will charge you a $5 duplication fee for the 5 MapPLUTO disks (one disk for each borough).
Is using the MapPLUTO data for free a violation of copyright?
Don’t be intimidated by the copyright disclaimer you will get from Planning along with your copy of MapPLUTO! If you are using the data for educational purposes (as opposed to commercial) then you can be relatively confident that you are not violating copyright.
If you decide to FOIL for MapPLUTO, please let us know how it goes! Also, Planning will be releasing updated version in June, so let them know that that’s the one you want!