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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Don't laugh this is serious too.

Ah you've got to love those sentinels protecting government information. ZDNet reports on vigorous efforts by government agencies to protect crown copyright in information that is or should be in the public domain and, in everyone's interests, should be used and reused for public purposes.

This from NSW this week about RailCorp's threats to a Sydney software developer of legal action if he failed to withdraw an iPhone and iPod Touch compatible application that lets users search timetable information for services on Sydney's railway system. The application is currently the second most popular application in its category in Apple's App Store.

This from Victoria last month about the Department of Sustainability and Environment refusal to provide data on fires on public land to Google Australia to allow real -time overlays on Google Maps. The Country Fire Authority had provided information for this purpose on fires on private land. And what about the nearest loo?
"The bushfire situation wasn't the first time Google has crossed swords with Crown copyright. The company had similar problems recently when it asked the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging for access to the data in the National Public Toilet Map, which it sought to offer as an overlay to Google Maps."
In October 2006 I commented:
"Access to government information continues to be an important accountability issue but in this day and age, access to such information to enable use and reuse to promote social and economic advancement, should also be recognised in our right to information law."
We're yet to get there anywhere in Australia as far as I'm aware.


  1. Anonymous1:19 pm


    You work for the people.

    Please release all information to the people.

  2. Anonymous1:56 pm

    All documents and data paid for with taxpayer money should be available for taxpayers to access, use and build on. The only exceptions should be:
    a) depersonalisation of data and documents to protect human (not corporate) privacy; and
    b) serious state security reasons, with the onus on the state to prove the security reasons to a form of judicial oversight.
    The new economy depends on the free flow of information - the iphone rail app is a good example. Good government also depends on the free flow of information - this blog gives examples every week. Even personal safety depends on the free flow of information - witness the appalling use of "crown copyright" to block bushfire maps that could save lives.

  3. The leader in all this is the US where there is no government copyright.The European Union has issued a directive regarding the use and reuse of government information.The Office responsible in the UK has some interesting background on two years of implementation at