Madrid, 7 January 2011 – Access Info Europe and Open Knowledge Foundation have published a report Beyond Access: Open Government Data and the “Right to Reuse” Public Information, the result of research into the open government data and access to information movements. Following a public consultation, the report identifies the practical, technical and legal challenges facing these movements.
Finding 1 – There are serious shortcomings in the current international and national standards defining the scope of the right of access to information, resulting in the release of information in formats that cannot be reused.
Finding 2 – Future transparency standards should be anticipated now, both to reduce technical obstacles to releasing the information down the line, and from a policy perspective to harness the full democratic potential of government data.
Finding 3 – There is a lack of clarity about who owns government data. Copyright, database rights and other ownership rights are restricting the right of the public to reuse government data. There is an urgent need for review of the legal framework which defines who owns government information, what the intellectual property rights of public bodies actually are, and whether the case can ever be made for selling government information to members of the public.
Finding 4 – There is an unresolved conflict between the right of access to information as an inherent part of the right to freedom of expression and the limitations placed on reuse of government data through copyright licences and charges for commercial reuse.
Finding 5 – The access to information and open government data movements are not yet collaborating sufficiently closely and are therefore missing opportunities to advance the transparency agenda.
Recommendations: The report contains a series of recommendations on how civil society, funders, governments and intergovernmental organisations should address these challenges.