Help Keep Bibliographic Data License-Free

Picture of the U.S. Library of Congress

The Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Information at the Library of Congress has just released its final Draft Report. There's much that's good in it, but it's lacking an important feature: an insistence that bibliographic data be license-free, as per point 8 of the Open Government Data Principles. (See also Jonathan Gray's post about this, and the Open Knowledge Foundation petition.)

This may just be an oversight on the working group's part, or it may reflect some deeper hesitancy about committing fully to the public domain. They've asked for comments on the draft, though, and it would be great if they heard from a lot of people about this. You can send them comments here:

Here's what I sent them...

Open Government Data Principles

Got Data?

This Friday and Saturday, I took part in a working group meeting of 30 open government advocates, organized by Carl Malamud and Tim O'Reilly, to develop a set of Open Government Data Principles.

One of the few bright spots in United States copyright law has always been that data produced by the government is, in theory, in the public domain. While there have of course been encroachments on this doctrine from time to time, it has generally been been held to in practice as well as in theory.

Unfortunately, being in the public domain isn't necessarily the same as being online and accessible in reasonable formats via modern protocols. For example, Carl Malamud has spent a fair amount of effort prying the raw records of copyright registrations out of the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress and putting them online in a much more useful way than the government ever had. Similar stories abound among those with experience extracting electronic data from governments.

France Decides Not To Use The Internet After All

French Pirate Party freedom poster

Thanks to Jeff Ubois for bringing this one to our attention...

Internet users in France who illegally download too many times will risk having their Internet connection taken away by court order. No, I'm not making this up: read about it in The Guardian, Tech Crunch, The New York Times, and the French Pirate Party's page (with English) about it.

The French Pirate Party (PPF), at the above link and elsewhere, is doing a good job of articulating what's wrong with this — aside from the fact that the content providers don't need their own taxpayer-funded private police force anyway, that is. As the PPF points out, the new measure will result in:

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