• Which the release of FS2020 we see an explosition of activity on the forun and of course we are very happy to see this. But having all questions about FS2020 in one forum becomes a bit messy. So therefore we would like to ask you all to use the following guidelines when posting your questions:

    • Tag FS2020 specific questions with the MSFS2020 tag.
    • Questions about making 3D assets can be posted in the 3D asset design forum. Either post them in the subforum of the modelling tool you use or in the general forum if they are general.
    • Questions about aircraft design can be posted in the Aircraft design forum
    • Questions about airport design can be posted in the FS2020 airport design forum. Once airport development tools have been updated for FS2020 you can post tool speciifc questions in the subforums of those tools as well of course.
    • Questions about terrain design can be posted in the FS2020 terrain design forum.
    • Questions about SimConnect can be posted in the SimConnect forum.

    Any other question that is not specific to an aspect of development or tool can be posted in the General chat forum.

    By following these guidelines we make sure that the forums remain easy to read for everybody and also that the right people can find your post to answer it.

Is using google map for scenery legal?

If I use SBuilderX or any other program to download and generate Google Earth scenery for personal use, is it legal or not? I created the scenery without the Google watermark, and I have never redistributed my scenery to anyone else. I created the scenery without using API or Google's tool, but simply the codes in the program.

There are a lot of similar questions in the Google community, and seems like the Google staff cannot give a clear answer. They keep pointing people to read this: https://www.google.com/permissions/geoguidelines/

Does anyone who knows about copyright laws well and can answer this question?
Simple answer, if it stays on your PC, that's ok. If you distribute your creation using their assets and do not pay a licence for it, then not ok.

EDIT: typos.
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Staff member
Resource contributor
If you use their scenery for personal use, not to be distributed, how would Google know you are using it? So how could they claim you are violating any of their terms of use? If you distribute their scenery, then you are openly violating their terms of use, and basically daring them to do something about it. So don't distribute anything from Google's data, unless they specifically tell you it's OK. Google is a giant. They can crush you.

Best advice you'll get without paying an attorney. FSDeveloper is not a legal service. If you can't figure this out now, hire a lawyer.
Maybe for freeware sceneries. They said fair use is acceptable but I don't know if that qualifies as one.
Neither freeware or paywhere is legal. The freeware refers to the software interface and not the actual images. The images dont belong to Google, but to companies like Airbus and Esri.
Their is wel set out post somewhere in the forums here.
Botom line is, of you distribute a product with satellite imagery, you have to pay for it.
Neither freeware or paywhere is legal. The freeware refers to the software interface and not the actual images. The images dont belong to Google, but to companies like Airbus and Esri.
Their is wel set out post somewhere in the forums here.
Botom line is, of you distribute a product with satellite imagery, you have to pay for it.
Good to know. The price of these though is not cheap. I'll stick with Bing map.
I have a question on this: What source of satellite image does those freeware and paidware get? Not Google?
And by the way, if I use it as a freeware, how could Google know it's me if I do not left any my information?;)
Photo scenery used in payware is sourced from a variety of sources where purchase of a license gives the ability to resell and distribute their product.
Freeware products will use photo sources that are free to use and redistribute.
Your final question does not deserve an answer.


Staff member
Resource contributor
Here's the quick answer. Do not use Google for aerial imagery. It cannot be distributed without violating their terms of use. Don't bother asking them for permission. They will not even respond to your request.

It's also unlikely that Bing or ESRI imagery can be used either.

There are government sources available in some countries. There are commercial sources of satellite and aerial imagery.

Paul Domingue

Resource contributor
In concept, you could create a package with sat/img then offer it as freeware minus the images and leave it to the individual user to install the images.
The aerial imagery that you see in Google Earth can be purchased, but it is spendy. Once purchased, usually through some broker, you have a license for redistribution - commercial or not.

Bearing in mind that an original intent of web-based imagery or other map tile down-loader features in most FS utilities such as SBuilder or SAS Planet, is to generate Geo-referenced background maps to trace over and/or scan raster pixels to derive data for FS scenery creation, here are real world facts about how Google deals with use of their (licensed) imagery when popularity of an alternative online map such as OSM ...encroaches their "turf": :pushpin:

NOTE: Because MSFS 2Kx through MSFS-2020 has thus far not really risked diverting "interweb" traffic away from otherwise anticipated commercial cash-flow derived from Google Maps / Google Earth platform use, we have not AFAIK, seen cases publicized of Google prosecuting FS developers for use of unlicensed Google imagery in FS scenery.

However, if Google Earth / Maps sees a 'competitive' future enhancement of Bing (aka "MS Virtual Earth") features in the future, they may start doing so, especially if MSFS developers start putting custom advertising on signs, billboards, building displays in NY Times Square etc, or POI's with HTML hyperlinks to advertising sites etc. in scenery. :alert:

Mischief and/or commercial 'abuse' is a potential down side of bringing MSFS to a web-connected platform accessible to those developers inclined to 'innovate'. :stirthepo

IMHO, the subject of using imagery as a Geo-referenced "background" image or map in a FS development utility or other application to create scenery content is as relevant now ...as it was when MSFS-2000 (aka "MSFS-2K") was released years ago; but it "should" become less important to drape imagery onto terrain as we learn to use the MSFS-2020 SDK.

In prior work with limited hardware and DirectX infrastructure in Windows, we have had to 'dumb-down' our scenery content; MSFS-2020 now makes that compromise obsolete.

While I love a scenery that uses custom photo-real imagery textures with Autogen, I believe "The Way Of The Future" is custom Biomes as a successor to FPS-killing Land Classes of legacy FS.

I now also love the MSFS-2020 vegetation with various perceived sizes, heights, and variable real-time environmental shadows ...even more than draped imagery. :yikes:

I am inclined to believe that we might do well to focus our studies on development of custom Biomes for MSFS-2020 rather than draping imagery onto terrain surfaces. ;)

Now that MSFS-2020 has a 3D world rendering engine with better performance to make FS even more "...Real As It Gets", we may instead want to make custom 'Biomes'. :idea:

It will be interesting to see what FS Developers may soon create in the way of new scenery content to enhance MSFS-2020 beyond RTM and forthcoming Patch versions. :cool:

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