Much more [UK] government data should now be available free, after the agency charged with opening up access to public sector information had its powers extended last week. As of April 1, local councils, NHS organisations, police and other emergency services can offer their data to the public for free via a simple licensing scheme called Click-Use. This allows the re-use of Crown copyright data if the user promises to conform to certain conditions, such as not pretending to be the data's "official" source. Previously, the Click-Use scheme run by the Office of Public Sector Information had applied only to central government information such as parliamentary acts. Some 9,000 Click-Use licences have been taken out since the scheme's launch in 2001. Carol Tullo, director of the office and holder of the title "Queen's Printer", said the extension of Click-Use would encourage more public bodies to make data available: "We will be providing very strong encouragement," she said. However, Click-Use applies only to raw data collected as part of a body's "public task", not to value-added products such as computer programs. Its use by local authorities is voluntary. And, crucially, the scheme does not cover government-owned trading funds, which are required by law to generate revenues from sales of information products; Tullo said the government had no intention of changing its "user pays" policy for public sector information. Guardian Technology's Free Our Data campaign argues that this policy stifles innovation by requiring businesses and individuals to pay twice for data collected at taxpayers' expense. A study in 2002 by Peter Weiss of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration found that such policies stifle economic activity....
Of the campaign, Tullo said: "It's not as simple as saying 'free all our data'." The government has shown no sign of abandoning the "user pays" principle, she said. Under that framework, however, she hinted at some flexibility, especially when the Office of Fair Trading reports on the issue of public-sector information later this year. Join the debate at www.freeourdata.org.uk.
After just four weeks, Technology Guardian’s "Free Our Data" campaign has been nominated under "advocacy" in New Statesman magazine’s New Media awards - for sites that "most effectively influenced opinions and behaviour through new media technology".
Peter Suber at 4/06/2006 09:36:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.