[Talk-us] Baltimore County GIS Data is now public domain

Steven Johnson sejohnson8 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 1 19:51:09 UTC 2013

>>Conclusion:  explicit law may already give us permission to use (our)
data any way we see fit, simply by asking for them.  Read up on >>your
state's laws on Public Records, see if there are any court decisions
affirming, and armed with this knowledge, ask away.  Happy mapping!

Good point. RCFP just published a guide to open government records law for
all 50 states, which you can find here here:
http://tinyurl.com/m6leum5<http://t.co/bBEWW1H2FG>The guide is simply
the text of state legislation, so you won't find
anything in the way of interpretation or application. For that you'd better
look closer to home.

In Virginia we have a public records law that places most public records in
the public domain, but interestingly (or frustratingly) every jurisdiction
in the state asserts copyright over the data. Here is the text of that

"*Information shown on these maps is derived from public records that are
constantly undergoing change and do not replace a site survey, and is not
warranted for content or accuracy. * The County does not guarantee the
positional or thematic accuracy of the GIS data. The GIS data or
cartographic digital files are not a legal representation of any of the
features in which it depicts, and disclaims any assumption of the legal
status of which it represents. Data contained on this Web page/site is
Copyright © York County, Virginia. The GIS data are proprietary to the
County, and title to this information remains in the County. All applicable
common law and statutory rights in the GIS data including,but not limited
to, rights in copyright, shall and will remain the property of the County."

My take is that this language was crafted in the early days of paleo-GIS
and was intended as a CYA by local governments who feared getting sued for
inaccurate data. I'm not sure of the implications for importing into
OpenStreetMap. Insights welcome.

-- SEJ
-- twitter: @geomantic
-- skype: sejohnson8

There are two types of people in the world. Those that can extrapolate from
incomplete data.

On Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 3:29 PM, stevea <steveaOSM at softworkers.com> wrote:

> **
> Here in California, thanks to at least one major judicial decision, all
> (geographic) data produced by public entities (incorporated cities,
> counties/divisions/departments/bureaus of the state itself, et cetera) is
> hampered neither by requiring "permission" from the state, nor acceptance
> of so-called "Terms of Use" or specific "license agreements."
> Specifically, the relevant case is the 2011* County of Santa Clara v CFAC*decision in the California Supreme Court.
> We have here what is called the California Public Records Act (CPRA) which
> outlines what a state actor (the "trustee" of the public trust) may or may
> not include/exclude as a public record when asked for by a member of the
> public (both "executor" and the "beneficiary" of the public trust).  The
> requesting party might be a member of the press, or somebody just like
> you.  The CPRA is similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),
> but it is for records (data) held by state entities, not federal records
> (data).
> In brief (from the decision):  "the CPRA contains no provisions either for
> copyrighting [this work] or for conditioning its release on an end user or
> licensing agreement by the requester.  The record thus must be disclosed as
> provided in the CPRA, without any such conditions or limitations."
> Yes, I know (from personal experience with CPRA requests), even with the
> CPRA, it can be difficult to pry the data out of their hands, but a recent
> incident with someone on talk-us wanting to use building outline data from
> City of Palo Alto made him ask talk-us "The City has an onerous Terms Of
> Use license...can I use these data?"  I answered basically by saying the
> above:  the City isn't allowed any longer to add such restrictions:  the
> CPRA says so and the California Supreme Court has affirmed this.  No need
> to bully them, just remind them of the truth of the law and what courts
> have to say about it -- without accepting "no" for an answer.
> It is very likely that other states besides California have "public record
> laws."  So, geographic data held by state actors certainly fall within this
> jurisdiction (I am not an attorney, just an informed Citizen).  OSM
> contributors in the other 49 states would be well advised to do a bit of
> simple research and find out:  whether affirmed by high court decision or
> not, it is possible that you already have statutory provisions for using
> public (geographic, and other) data -- simply by asking for the records.
> Elliott's suggestion does go a certain distance towards explicitly and
> effectively doing the same thing, though I believe that clarification of
> Public Record laws is a correct legal "remedy" to address this issue.  It
> may be "shorter" and/or "easier" than permission in the form of an explicit
> ODC PDDL or CC-Zero declaration.
> Conclusion:  explicit law may already give us permission to use (our) data
> any way we see fit, simply by asking for them.  Read up on your state's
> laws on Public Records, see if there are any court decisions affirming, and
> armed with this knowledge, ask away.  Happy mapping!
> SteveA
> California
> On Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 4:19 PM, Elliott Plack <elliott.plack at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > Greetings OpenStreetMappers,
> >
> > I am very excited to announce that my organization, Baltimore County
> > Government Office of Information Technology is releasing our GIS data to
> the
> > public in a free and nonrestrictive way!
> Wonderful news!  I'm thrilled to hear that you intend to make the Data
> of The People, By The People and For The People, available to The
> People.  :-)
> Your use of "public domain" in the subject is potentially confusing,
> since there is no reliable method for you to declare that the data is
> in the public domain.  Please see the wiki article linked.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain#Government_works
> It would be wonderful if you would choose and attach the following
> license(s) to the data, and your web site on which they are published.
>  ODC PDDL (preferred, because it is specific to data), CC-Zero.
> Casual references to "making the data public domain" are common, and
> are probably clouding the matter even further.  :(  Sorry to play the
> license-pedant-card and harsh your mellow.  You are clearly trying to
> do the right thing.  So many other places / institutions make the same
> casual references to "making the data public domain" that it is no
> surprise that you got caught by it.
> _______________________________________________
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