Case Studies/Queensland Government
(c) Queensland Government
The adoption and implementation by governments of an open access policy to public sector information (PSI) will ensure the greatest public benefit is derived from the increased use of information created, collected, maintained, used, shared, and disseminated by and for all governments in Australia. — Stanley Declaration, 13 July 2007, Australian National Summit on Open Access to Public Sector Information
The Queensland Government Information Licensing Framework (GILF) was established in 2006 by the Queensland Spatial Information Council (QSIC) to review international trends in the transaction of public sector information (PSI), and to formulate best practice for the business environment. GILF seeks to create and implement a new standardised information licensing arrangement for all Queensland Government information, providing on-demand access to accurate, consistent and authoritative public sector information (PSI) to support a range of Government initiatives.
After consultation with state, federal, and local government agencies together with the private sector, GILF has recommended that State Government agencies move to an information licensing framework based on Creative Commons for information that carries no concerns relating to privacy, confidentiality or other legal or policy constraints. In the project’s Stage 2 Report produced in 2006, titled Government Information and Open Content Licensing: An Access and Use Strategy, GILF concluded that a significant majority (e.g. 85%) of PSI to be suitable for use with Creative Commons licences.
The Stage 2 Report sets out:
- open content licensing and information management principles being developed nationally and internationally;
- a gap analysis undertaken between various existing non-standard licences in use and the Creative Commons licences;
- the review undertaken of the Digital Rights Management (DRM) component of the GILF to electronic tag licensed data;
- a roadmap to implement the framework in pilot agencies. A preliminary draft toolkit is included to assist with pilot agency implementation including addressing policy, technology and legal issues.
In a subsequent conference report for the Australian National Summit on Open Access to Public Sector Information, held in Brisbane on 13 July 2007, GILF observed that:
- ‘A broad consensus emerged in favour of the benefits to be derived from government implementing an open access policy, subject to proper protection of private and other restricted information, and the use of Creative Commons (CC) open content licences for the majority of PSI which is unaffected by privacy or other restricting factors. Conceptually, open access to PSI leads to the realisation of the information’s full social, cultural, environmental, civil society, and commercial potential.’ (p. 24)
The full scope of the GILF project covers policy, technology and law (e.g. licensing). The project is ongoing, and trials are currently underway relating to OCL, together with collaborations with Federal Government agencies also considering the potential application of CC licences to a significant proportion of their data and information. Stage 3 of the project specifically aims to test CC licences in multi-agency and whole-of-Government arrangements. GILF also has international connections with the UK and EU.
- ‘Open access (OA), including the use of open content licences (e.g. CC) is a global movement increasingly gaining momentum and the GILF project is internationally acknowledged as making an important and innovative contribution in the content of government information (PSI) including geospatial (mapping) information.’ - Neale Hooper, Principal Counsel, Office of Economic and Statistical Research, Queensland Treasury
In its Stage 2 report, GILF endorses the application of the Creative Commons licensing suite to its pilot projects proposed for Stage 3. To date, the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Australia licence has been applied to both reports relating to the GILF project. Notification of the CC licence has been applied as part of the pdf format of both files.
The CC BY-SA 2.5 licence was selected as OESR wanted State copyright to be acknowledged but wanted others to be able to benefit from and build upon its findings and work. The ShareAlike provision was considered to facilitate that outcome.
Application of CC to data products and services will occur as part of the trial within OER.
Ideas Festival: http://ideasfestival.com.au/
GILF operates as a project of the Office of Economic and Statistical Research (OESR), being the Office of the Queensland State Government Statistician within the Queensland Treasury. In order to perform the statutory functions of the State Government Statistician, OESR must be able to secure efficient and effective access to, as well as the rights to reuse, PSI located across all State Government departments and agencies, in addition to other relevant information external to the Queensland Government. With this objective in mind, OESR, as part of GILF, has assessed the applicability of the Creative Commons licensing scheme for PSI, concurrently ensuring that proper protections are in place to protect individuals’ privacy, and to respect the confidentiality of information, whether commercial-in-confidence or owing to statutory constraints or other restrictive considerations.
Creative Commons licences facilitate open access to and re-use of PSI whilst ensuring attribution of State copyright ownership of information, protection of the IP of the State, and the significant limitation of any potential legal liability for the State in making such information available on line. The value or potential of PSI lies in its maximum reuse and CC licences facilitate such re-use.
Neale Hooper observes that owing to Creative Commons’ status as an international movement, and its recognition as a standard for flexible copyright licensing, the government can gain significant leverage from adopting CC.
- ‘Creative Commons is an international movement and maximum reuse of government information is facilitated by adopting an already developed internationally accepted licensing system. No point in needlessly re-inventing the wheel.’
Creative Commons was first introduced to the OESR when officers attended a seminar at the Queensland University of Technology in 2004 which included a satellite link presentation by Professor Lawrence Lessig who discussed the scheme. Whilst CC was developed initially for creative/artistic works protected by copyright, the officers considered there may well be potential to apply the same licences to government information databases and products which are also protected by copyright under Australian copyright law.
- ‘Government holds major repositories of public sector information. Greater access to and reuse will facilitate better decision making generally by the public sector, the private sector, Including the business community. Increased access and rights of re-use provided under the GILF project if implemented will also assist in promoting economic activity in the private sector. Social, culture, educational and environmental benefits will also be realised with the greater access to and re-use of public sector information facilitated under the GILF project which includes use of CC licences for the significant majority of public sector information. More limiting licences will need to be used where restrictive issues such as privacy, statutory constraints and other confidentiality obligations are present.’ Neale Hooper
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