Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 6 Intellectual Property Update

Apologies for the delay in posting - I have been on extended engagement in Abu Dhabi and posting was more difficult than I thought it would be be. There have been a number of important developments over the past few weeks - too many to put into one post. Therefore I am going to break them up based [roughly] upon subject area.

Intellectual Property Rights
I am still trying to understand the implications of the recent announcement regarding ESRI and It certainly has caused a great deal of concern within the geospatial community. According to this post from the All Points Blog, such concern may be unnecessary. However, given that (i) in the U.S. federal government data is not protected by copyright, (ii) the Obama Administration has been pushing greater transparency with respect to government operations, and (iii) the improvements in technology and open standards, I am surprised that the items Sean Gorman discusses in this post are still an issue with respect to federal government data.

OpenStreetMap is changing is data license model. The post includes a link that gives an excellent explanation as to why a new license was needed. I would be interested in your thoughts as to whether the new license works.

There has been a good deal of criticism about the judge's ruling in this case. Most of it has to do with the feeling that judge has ruled that spatial data is "software". I have a slightly different take - as I found the judge to be saying that spatial data is software as that terms is currently defined in the applicable section of the code. That is a subtle but important distinction because it suggests that the best way to address the question is not through litigation, but by putting pressure on the legislature to make the definition more accurate.

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