Commission to adopt proposal on the exploitation of public information

June 5, 2002

Brussels, 04 June 2002

The European Commission is expected to adopt a revised draft Directive on the exploitation of public sector information on 5 June. Originally tabled at a meeting of the College of Commissioners on April 24, this proposal was sent back and worked on by officials for a further month. The resulting draft Directive aims to facilitate the conversion of public sector information (legal, economic, geographical and tourist information, for example) into digital added value resources, intended to be marketed over the Internet.

The proposal includes some noticeable changes from the original draft of 24 April. It no longer insists that any accessible public sector information should lend itself to exploitation. In the new proposal, Member States are given more freedom to decide what kind of information they are prepared to make available for reuse by the private sector.

There has also been a rethink on the question of how much public sector bodies can charge for supplying information. Citing the example of the USA, the draft proposal states that the lower the price for re-using public sector information, the higher the economic impact. However, it also recognises that some public bodies rely on income generated by the sale of information.

These bodies are now allowed a reasonable profit margin, a departure from the original proposal which stated that tariffs should be based on costs alone.

The document states that the intellectual property rights of public sector bodies will not be affected by this proposal. It allows for the possibility of reuse on the basis of licence.

The draft Directive is addressed to national, regional and local authorities, public associations, but not state-owned enterprises. Though not the primary target of these regulations, the EU institutions will also observe the proposed rules.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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