[govinfo] FW: [igotf] Can governments copyright the data they produce?

  • From: "Patrice McDermott" <pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 2 Jun 2009 13:11:44 -0400

I know this has been a big issue on other local data.  Can anyone help Dan out? 
 BTW, see http://igotf.org/ if you want to know what igotf is about.

And, Dan, the quick answer is often "Yes they can" -- and do.

Patrice McDermott 

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Knauss [mailto:dan.knauss@xxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 11:34 AM
Subject: [igotf] Can governments copyright the data they produce?

Apparently a major source of regional geodata in southeastern
Wisconsin has been held since 1993 under copyright by private utility
companies and an unelected sub-entity of an unelected commission. The
former hold a copyright of the data in digital form; the latter hold a
copyright over it in print. They sell their whole silo for half a
million dollars, or you can buy pieces of it if you are "non-
commercial," which is defined to mean "you won't show the data to
anyone else."

Suddenly now there is some verbal claim that this copyright
arrangement is being reconsidered, and the sole copyright holder
should be Milwaukee County, which has a nominal authority over the
unelected commissions that have been selling the data.

If anyone here is able to suggest some relevant history and legal
sources on this sort of snarl, please do.

Here are the SE WI details as I understand them, with links to
sources, as I summarized above:

Post or email me any comments/feedback...

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  • » [govinfo] FW: [igotf] Can governments copyright the data they produce? - Patrice McDermott