On 23 January 2006, the Council of European Union has formally adopted a common position on the Inspire Directive, which stipulates that Geographic Data collected by National Mapping Agencies all over Europe should be owned by such agencies and not by the Public. While a lot of datasets are available in the United States under a public domain licence, little geographic data is available under open access terms in Europe but is instead made available at monopoly prices by national mapping agencies. Restricted access to geographic data for the public and businesses due to high costs and narrow licenses means fewer services and fewer jobs in Europe.
If the European Parliament does not adequately amend or, failing that, reject this directive proposal, INSPIRE will entrench a policy of charging citizens for information they have already paid to collect, enforced by state copyright over geographic information.
What to do?
By order of priority:
Lobby your Member of European Parliament about INSPIRE.
Sign the Petition to promote open access to public geodata in Europe through INSPIRE
2006-03-24: Inspire Euro-geo portal opened
2006-03-24: Slashdot: Where are the Boundaries to Open Source? (mentions Tim Berners-Lee call for Public Geo Data)
2006-03-21: MEP McAvan (UK Labour) answers Tim Waters
2006-03-20: Petition passes 2500 signatures
2006-03-16: Europarl: amendments published
2006-02-21: Environment Committee meets to discuss INSPIRE (audio recording available)
2006-02-17: PublicGeoData starts petition asking the European Parliament to reject the Inspire directive
2006-02-16: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament (Commission is not happy about Intellectual Property clauses in the Common Position)