There is a 48 hour grace period for submissions until midnight Tuesday.
I also submitted the following addendum to my earlier submission based on a discussion on CivicAccess List between Jennifer Bell and Russell McOrmond and public education work over at Visible Government. Thanks to both of you!
Another solution to improve Canada’s Copyright law is to abolish crown copyright all together and follow the lead of the NZ Government Open Access and Licensing (NZGOAL) framework. Wherever Crown Copyright would be used, Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) would be used instead. The proposal argues:
“Now more than ever is there a very present need to bring information the Government holds on behalf of its people into the public domain so that it may be used in ways that stimulate innovation, generate cultural creativity, social interaction and dialogue, while also kick starting economic growth.”
This is very interesting and could be very helpful for the dissemination of government data. Also, the 2009, UK government’s Power of Information Task Force final report found that Crown Copyright was a major barrier to the re-use of Public Sector Information, and recommended that Crown Copyright be changed to a ‘Crown Commons’ license to encourage re-use.
The creation of progressive unrestricted use licenses by some government departments has moved the access discourse toward citizen participation, these are not global enough across government, but are an extremely innovative and creative step in the right direction.
Today is the last day!
Below is my submission to the copyright consultation. I read a number of submissions, and clearly, I am more of a novice on the topic than I thought. I am not at all an expert in this area, but spoke about what I know, in my own language and hope other non experts will also add their view. I saw that many submissions are about art related content and have not yet come across science nor data topics. If you come across any can you point me to them?
Public Sector Information, Government Data, Government Digital Maps, Publicly Funded Research Data - belong to citizens.
Author: Tracey P. Lauriault
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a researcher and a geomatician. I have worked for many years with a number of community based organizations, not-for-profit groups, research groups and the private sector to create evidence based maps, indicators, tables, analysis, and reports for decision making. I have worked in housing and homelessness, environment, quality of life indicators, child care, education, public health, social planning, etc. I am also a founding member of CivicAccess.ca and a co-author of datalibre.ca.
The greatest impediment to my work has been the high cost of public sector data & information and restrictive licensing regimes that surround these. A few examples help illustrate this: Statistics Canada Data is cost prohibitive and data pricing seems arbitrary; Vital Statistics Data are very expensive; the database that links postal codes to electoral ridings is cost prohibitive; postal code base maps are very expensive; non-private health data from CIHI are very expensive again; there are arbitrary reasons for not releasing non private non security risk data from numerous federal governmental agencies, and there are very restrictive use licenses for public sector information in general and especially the aforementioned Federal organizations.
High costs, restrictive licensing, arbitrary policies and practices, and the government acting as a monopoly on access to public sector data - data citizens have already paid for with taxation - has greatly affected the kinds of research I can pursue, has strained the pocket books of charity organizations and has left citizens and community based organizations marginalized in democratic debates since they do not have access to the data they need to formulate their arguments.
I have tried, as a citizen to analyze the characteristics of my neighbourhood, compare those with others, develop a business plan, investigate the socio-economic profiles of school catchment areas and school closures, or do a spatial location analysis for a new park. I have the skill, knowledge and tools to do this work, however, the cost of the data and use restrictions either a) make it to expensive to do this work or b) restricts how I can disseminate the results.
There seems to be a lack of coherence from the Federal Government of Canada regarding access to and fair use of public data by the public. These are data that the public has paid for already. Crown Copyright and cost recovery for public data impede participatory democracy and puts citizens, community groups and small businesses at a disadvantage when it comes to evidence based planning. It also thwarts innovation since instead of focussing on value added activities, businesses, researchers, non-profit groups and citizens are scrambling to pay for and to adhere to multiply conflicting licenses as opposed to a license that makes it easy to use these data, share these data and add value to them.
To include citizens in the process of decision making I recommend an unrestricted user license such as that developed by two Federal Government programs GeoBase and Geogratis. Also, the government should act less as a monopolist regarding its public data and more as a public agency and abolish cost recovery policies, and create an infrastructure to share these data with their necessary metadata and licenses. We also need to consider the long term preservation of these to ensure they can be disseminated for the long term. This I believe will enable and facilitate the process of citizens and the Government working together. This will also provide a way for us to think together, particularly on troublesome issues such as homelessness.