Sunday, October 28, 2007

More feedback to the Government

I was wandering around the Green Vehicle Guide and I found a link or two about reusing their data - you just have to seek permission from the right people.

So I followed it and stumbled across this: Statement of IP Principles for Australian Government Agencies (read PDF).

It pissed me off to no end, as I've wasted time dealing with people who don't seem to be aware of this.

Basically; the document linked to boils down to:
  • Open your data
  • If a business a can use it; consider letting them
  • More data, more access equals more jobs
  • More access means the public is better informed
  • Be flexible

The bit I really liked was:
Agencies should encourage public use and easy access to copyright material that
has been published for the purpose of:
.. snip ..
facilitating access to government services
.. /snip ..

So after being treated liked a moron the last time I tried to do something, the moment I saw a Feedback on Copyright / etc link; I bashed out:

This is just general feedback about public access to IP here in South Australia.

I recently contacted the DTEI here about gaining access to data - bus routes and timetables in a plain text format ('csv').

I wanted to create a 'google maps' type application to view the data on, and otherwise have better access to it. I had no commercial aims for it, and was very clear about that.

I also wanted it because the current way to view this data on the web is horrible and hard to use.

I'm a software engineer, so I [also] wanted to combine it with other data sets: for example a list of restaurants to create a 'find me a bus route to my restaurant booking @ 8pm Sunday'.

I was initially rebuffed; then after further persistence, I was invited a meeting - I thought I was in luck.

When I went in, after taking half of a day off from my full time work, I was completely stuffed around.
There appeared to be little or no understanding of 'Intellectual Property Principles for Australian Government agencies'.

I felt ridiculed by the way I was spoken to and treated.

Every question I asked was met with a look of confusion or a half hearted refusal.

While I can understand there is a balance between protecting commercial IP and public access, those I spoke to had no concept of a member of the public being able to make use of data.

I wasn't made aware of any other possible avenues or approaches I could take - basically; the matter was 'closed'.

I no longer wish to obtain this data, but I thought I'd let you know a first hand experience about us members of the public getting access to IP / data; and what (at least one) individual representing the government knows of your recommendations.

Your move, Australian government!


Update: My move again.

Dear Mr O'Connor

I refer to your email below to the Commonwealth Copyright Administration
requesting to use data - bus routes and timetables from The Department for
Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (DTEI) website. The DTEI administer
their own requests to use information from their website.

There is an online feedback form located at the following weblink
http://www.dtei.sa.gov.au/online_feedback_form.html

Regards
Commonwealth Copyright Administration
Attorney General's Department
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