Gaia was an open source 3D earth viewer -- in their own words: "an attempt to reverse engineer famous Google Earth and implement its functionality in open, portable, customizable and extendable way." Last week, it was featured on the Google Operating System blog, no doubt what tipped off Google to its existence.
The Gaia project was delivered a C & D order from Michael Jones, Chief Technologist of Google Earth, Maps, and Local Search. The original letter was polite, and did a pretty good job explaining the project violates the Google Earth TOS.
"I am not an attorney. I am not posturing. Just the opposite. We on the engineering team are hopeful that despite the risk your actions (break the ToS, reverse engineer parts of the data protection mechanisms, publish the fact and code, encourage others) pose to our product, team, company, and users, we remain hopeful that this was an unintended result of what started as intellectual curiosity by a smart engineer like ourselves who has a passion to learn how things work." -- Michael Jones
The Gaia team has complied with the request without resistance, and posted this response on their website:
"25 November 2006, we've got the letter from Michael Jones, the Chief Technologist of Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Local search, requesting us to cease reverse engineering and improper usage of licensed data that Google Earth use. We understand and respect Google's position on the case, so we've removed all downloads from this page and we ask everybody who have ever downloaded gaia 0.1.0 and prior versions to delete all files concerned with the project, which include source code, binary files and image cache (~/.gaia)."