Saturday, February 16, 2008

Round-up of Spatial Law issues

Link to an article from Salt Lake Tribune about the need to control government's efforts to provide services that can be provided by government entitities. This is big issue for companies that produce maps and other spatial products, particularly at the state level, as I realized by attending the recent MAPPS Winter Conference.

Discussion on the Ars Technica blog about another case involving attempt by county official to distribute local data. History of this case is interesting. Seneca Technologies won a suit to obtain electronic copies of tax maps under the state Freedom of Information Act at a price much lower than counties were charging for paper copies of the same type of information. Seneca is now posting this information on its website. Now a county tax accessor is suing for violation of county copyright on tax maps.

I missed this case when the opinion was first published last year, but I think it still noteworthy, particularly since appeals are still pending. In Darden v. Peters, the plaintiff is challenging the decision of the US Copyright Office to deny copyright protection to on-line maps and compilations. Unfortunately, there is much discussion in the opinion on administrative law issues. However, the opinion also discusses how the Copyright Office claims to have applied copyright law to the application. Hopefully, if an appeal is granted, there will be more discussion of the latter, as this is an important issue.

I saw the press release below from DMTI Spatial, Inc. and was intrigured by the title and responsibilities of the position --- as I believe it shows the complexity of spatial data. According to the release, as Vice President, Intellectual Property and Privacy, Ms. John "is responsible for the development, negotiation and management of all licensing agreements on behalf of the company. She is also in charge of the development of, and adherence to, information management policies that ensure the company’s compliance with privacy legislation."

The job description suggests that licensing, privacy (and I would argue liability issues) with respect to spatial data are inextricably linnked. Having one person responsible for overseeing all of these issues is good business from a legal standpoint.

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