Free and Open Geospatial Content: Intellectual Property Rights and Cost

Presentation | Presented

  • Geoff Zeiss, Autodesk, Inc.

Access to government spatial data is determined primarily by three factors, intellectual property (IP) rights, cost, and security. Government data in the US is in the public domain. In the UK, Canada, South Africa, and Australia, government data is covered by crown copyright. Many national governments around the world severely limit access to spatial data on the grounds of security. Google Earth and other mass market companies have dramatically broadened access to spatial data, but this data is commercial and is protected by copyright. The U.S. Freedom of Information Act and the Open Records Laws of the individual states confirm the right of citizens to be informed about government and as result spatial data captured by the U S Federal Government is available to citizens at no cost or at the cost of reproduction. A similar no or low cost principle is being established by legal precedent in California and other states. In Japan, South Africa, Australia, and in Canada as of April 1 of this year, central government digital data can be accessed at no or low cost. In the UK in contrast the Ordnance Survey is expected to not only recover its costs, but generate a return to government. Low cost access to spatial data together with open source geospatial software has lowered the barrier to entry for geospatial entrepreneurs around the world. In this presentation we will discuss the issues determining access to geospatial data worldwide and its implications for geospatial software developers.

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