Monday, February 28, 2005

Boyle, the weather and access to information

Havning pointed a friend of mine at some typically insightful work by James Boyle, I heard from James this morning on his latest short piece in the FT. Cuts right to the core of the issue as usual:

"On one side of the Atlantic, state produced data flows are frequently viewed as potential revenue sources. They are copyrighted or protected by database rights. The departments which produce the data often attempt to make a profit from user-fees, or at least recover their entire operating costs. It is heresy to suggest that the taxpayer has already paid for the production of this data and should not have to do so again. The other side of the Atlantic practices a benign form of information socialism... It is easy to guess which is which. Surely, the United States is the profit and property-obsessed realm, Europe the place where the state takes pride in providing data as a public service? No, actually it is the other way around."

He goes on to illustrate the value of weather data as social wealth and the potential for shared seismographic, cartographic and satellite data in a similar vane [excuse the pun].

No comments: