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Friday, February 01, 2008

Report on CC licenses for Dutch public sector info

Mireille van Eechoud and Brenda van der Wal, Creative commons licensing for public sector information:  opportunities and pitfalls, University of Amsterdam Institute for Information Law, version 3.0, January 2008.  (Thanks to the CC blog.)  Excerpt:

Under Dutch law, much information held by the public sector qualifies for copyright protection (e.g. databases, maps, reports, papers, opinions)....

In general terms, one can conclude the Creative Commons model is suitable only for public sector information with the following access characteristics:

  • public access is the chief principle (either because the information is subject to the Government Information Act or sector specific regulation), and
  • access is not granted under cost recovery model (i.e. going beyond charges for the cost of dissemination)....

The idea of licensing information seems at odds with the notion that citizens have a right to access such information under the freedom of information act (Wet openbaarheid van bestuur). The longstanding debate on the relationship between copyright and freedom of information law, shows that it is generally accepted that gaining access under Wob does not dismiss the recipient of the obligation to respect intellectual property rights in the information. This implies that conditioning use is allowed, at least as long as the terms are consistent with the objective of the Wob: by stimulating openness of government information, enabling citizens to influence and control the administration and participate in the democratic process. The most compatible licenses from this perspective are CC-PD and CC-BY....