UK effort to release works from Crown Copyright

Cover story: Government urged to release ??300m of agency ideas | News | New Media Age

By Justin Pearse, Will Cooper

The UK Government is locking away up to ??300m worth of intellectual property from digital content created by agencies and production companies.

The claim by the production company trade body Pact is part of its campaign to abolish the practice whereby digital content created for government, local government, NGOs and other public bodies is held under crown copyright.

Pact, supported by the IPA, is proposing a Digital Rights Framework for all publicly funded content. This would allow greater opportunities for agencies and production companies to reuse work and stimulate a secondary rights market.

The move could enable the Government to gain revenues from licensing and release assets that would help to stimulate the digital economy.

A similar approach could work in Canada. Instead of working to abolish Crown Copyright altogether, it could be very productive to work toward a broad copyright licensing framework for government information. As much as I’m a fan of Creative Commons licences might not be appropriate for this particular use.

It is also worth noting that beyond stimulating the digital economy with government documents and information, releasing works from Crown Copyright would reduce costs to government itself — believe it or not, sometimes the largest cost of initiatives in one government department is licensing works from other departments.

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