Open Geodata in Europe - Inspire directive

John Halleck nahaj at
Thu May 11 15:49:54 BST 2006

On Thu, 11 May 2006, Andy Waddington wrote:

> On Thursday 2006-05-11 00:49, Wookey wrote:
> > If you think mapping data collected by public bodies should be available to
> > the public for free
> What these public bodies _collect_ are facts. Not original artistic or
> literary creations. There can be no copyright in those data. No conceivable
> argument about that.

  See below.

> What these agencies create, which _is_ intellectual property, are
> representations of those data for public consumption - maps, charts,
> tidal predictions, weather forecasts, river level/flooding forecasts
> etc. But they do use public money to create that IP.

  But the original "facts" that you state are not copyrightable
  are also not released.  (At least the Irish Ordanance survey isn't
  willing to release them without serious money and vaguely unbelievable

  The formal argument given seems to be that any representation of the
  facts is an Intelectual property. (Just as phone books can be a
  copyrightable item in some juristictions.)

> The UK government is particularly fascist about this IP, doing the sort
> of accounting that looks at cash flows through bodies like the UKHO, the
> OS, the Met. Office and so on, and not taking account of the savings to
> other bodies that would result from free availability of the information.
> Tidal predictions, for example, are regarded as a matter of public safety
> by many countries, and the savings to search and rescue organisations
> from making this info freely available exceed the losses of revenue from
> not selling the information as is done in the UK.

  I agree whole heartedly.

  Contrast the UK's attitute on this with the US's NGS.

  The free availiabilty of data has benefited local governments greatly.
  (Several local governments have their municipal control grid tied
  to local NGS monuments, with full data on them provided to NGS.)

  The NGS OPUS program has benefited both state and local control
  surveying, as well as individual surveyors.  [The OPUS program
  post processes four hours of GPS data against the after the fact
  accurate orbits, and local CORS stations, routinely giving sub
  centimeter accuracies.] All for free.  Not only in the US, but
  for countries around the world [Countries like Iraq, Peru,
  Aruba, Mexico, etc...  But very notibly not the UK.]

  The US NGS's CORS program made data from continuous operating
  refrence status to availible to the public for free.
  Nobody forsaw the side effects.  Since the data was free, lots
  of folk took a look.   That data is now being used for studies
  that the people that put it in place never imagined.
  Examples as diverse as plate techtonics,ionospheric
  studies, and yearly snow load investigations.

  None of those would have been known possible if people hadn't looked
  at the data.

  None of the researchers would have likely even looked at the data
  if they'd have to had paid for it, since it wasn't known that the
  data would pan out for the task.

  Nothing like any of the new uses has come out of the UK.
  [What does the UK do with all that data it gathers?]
  They have all come out of the US NGS's free access.
  And now that the uses are known, none of it is likely to
  be followed up in the UK (except by government) because the
  data is just too unreasonably expensive.

> It should be a simple matter of enlightened self-interest to make the
> original data and a lot of the derived representations and predictions
> available without charge.

  I think the U.S.'s NGS (National Geodetic Survey) is a wonderful
  example of what happens with free access.  The societal rewards
  have been amazing.
> > you need to sign the petition asking for this to happen, and ideally
> > contact your MEP about it.

  :) I'd have an obvious problem doing that.

  The NGS site has pointers to a number of papers some explaining benefits
  of the data...  possibly some of that can be fodder for the effort.
> Hmm, 703 signatures as of mine being added. 700,000 might be enough to get
> some notice taken ...

  You have my heartfelt wishes for good luck on the project.

  Here many polititions respond to individual (I.E. not form letter)
  letters much better than petitions.  It means that the people
  care enough to take the time to inform them.
  Your milage may vary.
> Andy

-- John Halleck

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