This week, I was pleased to participate in a joint initiative between the University of Ottawa’s Public Law Group and iPolitics to examine the government’s Speech from the Throne from many policy perspectives. This includes contributions from Professors Mendes, Morales, Oliver, Pal, Dodek, Forcese, Chalifour, and Cairns Way. My piece (iPolitics version, homepage version) focuses on the government’s commitment to “open by default”, which appears in all ministerial mandate letters. I note that the emphasis on open and transparent government in the Speech from the Throne was both welcome and unsurprising. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on openness and transparency with impressive commitments to transform how Canadians access government information.
Post Tagged with: "Crown Copyright"
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 […]
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:
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 […]
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.