Thursday April 26, 2012
The Department of National Defence is using crown copyright to demand
of a leaked government document that has been widely discussed and
posted on the Internet. At issue is the Canadian Land Force
Counter-Insurgency Operations Manual, which the Globe's Doug Saunders described
as "Canada's military manual and operational manifesto for the
Afghanistan war." The document was first leaked by Wikileaks in August
2009 and remains available
from that site. It was subsequently reposted in several places,
including on the PublicIntelligence.net
site and on Scribd
(the Globe appears to have posted it there).
Earlier this month, the Department of National Defence sent a demand
email to the Public Intelligence site seeking removal of the document.
It is not clear whether similar demands have been sent to Wikileaks and
Scribd. The demand states:
We believe that the copyright
protected work of the Department of National Defence (DND) is being
provided to the public through your website in a manner that
constitutes copyright infringement.
The demand email continues by arguing that the document was not
obtained under Access to Information and, even if it was, that ATIA
not permit widespread distribution of documents in violation of the
Copyright Act. The Canadian government has altered
to the restrictions on publishing public documents by granting
permission to reproduce government works for personal or public
non-commercial purposes without the need for prior permission. In this
instance, however, DND presumably believes that the document itself was
made available without authorization and that the permissive licence
does not apply.
TagsShareThursday April 26, 2012
Friday March 18, 2011
I was offline yesterday and thus missed the official launch
of the federal
government's open data portal.
Like many, I think is great that the government has finally moved on
this issue as Canada has trailed far behind many other countries in
making government data openly available for reuse for far too long. The
immediate reaction to the launch included some disappointment at the licensing
terms, as David Eaves quickly
to restrictive language that would even stop someone from using the
data "in any way which, in the opinion of Canada, may bring disrepute
to or prejudice the reputation of Canada." Treasury Board Secretary
Stockwell Day responded
to the concern by indicating that was not the intent and that the
language would be addressed.
That too is good news, but I think it is important to identify the
source of the licensing language and the larger issue at play. First,
the licensing terms, including the disrepute provision, have been used
by the government for several years. The licence
at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which has offered open data for
several years, features the same language on a webpage that was last
modified in 2008. In fact, the GeoConnections program, which
disseminates geographic data, published a 184
page best practices guide
in 2008 (and that was version 2) that discusses licensing terms in
great detail and includes several samples. In each case, the
includes the disrepute provision. While it may be true that few people
ever read the licence - Transport Canada published
the new GC Open Data Portal licence weeks before yesterday's launch and
no one seemed to notice - the terms are important both because they can
be used to later restrict activities and because they reflect the
government's view of the rights of Canadians to their data.
The government may revise the licence by removing the disrepute term,
but I think a larger issue will remain.
TagsShareFriday March 18, 2011
Monday December 13, 2010
Last week I had the opportunity to appear before the Standing Committee
on Ethics, Accountability & Privacy to discuss open
government. My comments - and many of the questions that followed - focused on crown copyright and access to information.
The committee hearing stream can be found here.
My opening statement is posted below.
Appearance before the Standing
Committee on Ethics, Accountability & Privacy
December 9, 2010
TagsShareMonday December 13, 2010
Thursday April 01, 2010
The Public Domain blog takes issue with a recent off-hand comment from Bloc MP Thierry St-Cyr, who suggested that there is no copyright in comments made during Question Period debate. The reality is the opposite - the government asserts crown copyright in the House of Commons official record, Hansard. TagsShareThursday April 01, 2010
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