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    Clement Confirms Canadian Non-Commercial Crown Copyright Licence Still Available

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    Monday December 02, 2013
    Treasury Board President Tony Clement has confirmed in a tweet that the federal government's non-commercial crown copyright licence remains available. He indicates that a notice to this effect will be posted shortly. I blogged about the removal of the licence with the change in how the government handles crown copyright licensing requests.
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    Government of Canada Quietly Changes Its Approach to Crown Copyright

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    Monday November 25, 2013
    In 2010, the federal government implemented important changes to its crown copyright approach. While the law vests full copyright in government works, the government notified the public that it was establishing a non-commercial use licence that gave permission for non-commercial uses without the need for permission. The government stated:

    Permission to reproduce Government of Canada works, in part or in whole, and by any means, for personal or public non-commercial purposes, or for cost-recovery purposes, is not required, unless otherwise specified in the material you wish to reproduce.
    A reproduction means making a copy of information in the manner that it is originally published - the reproduction must remain as is, and must not contain any alterations whatsoever.
    The terms personal and public non-commercial purposes mean a distribution of the reproduced information either for your own purposes only, or for a distribution at large whereby no fees whatsoever will be charged.
    The term cost-recovery means charging a fee for the purpose of recovering printing costs and other costs associated with the production of the reproduction.

    Up until last week, that remained the approach. As of November 18th, it appears to have changed. First, Publications and Depository Services, the branch within the Public Works and Government Services that handled crown copyright, is no longer doing so. It now provides the following notice:

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    Department of National Defence Uses Crown Copyright To Demand Removal of Leaked Document

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    Thursday April 26, 2012
    The Department of National Defence is using crown copyright to demand the removal 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 does not permit widespread distribution of documents in violation of the Copyright Act. The Canadian government has altered its approach 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.

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    Same As It Ever Was: Canada's New Open Data Portal and Restrictive Licence Terms

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    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 pointed 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 terms 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 licence 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.

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