Friday, November 04, 2011

Where are the Open Access Guidelines for Australian Government?

The Creative Commons for Government Seminar is covering much useful ground. But what seems to be missing are formal prominent guidelines on open access in the Australian Government. The Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) issued Draft Guidelines on Licensing Public Sector Information for Australian Government Agencies in early February 2011. Comments were collected during February, but I can't see where the finalized document was issued.

AGIMO cover open access well in their Web Guide mandatory requirements for "Copyright & copyright notices". There is a reasonably clear statement in the Attorney-General’s Department "Commonwealth Copyright Administration", but buried down in the text :
In line with a recommendation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce Report, Commonwealth Government agencies are now required to release copyright public sector information under Creative Commons BY-licences or other open content licences, wherever possible.
While I was looking for what might be the official statement, Professor Anne Fitzgerald mentioned the "Intellectual Property Principles for Australian Government agencies". This has a statement in paragraph 11 (a). But this is not easy to find:
  1. (a) Agencies should encourage public use and easy access to material that has been published for the purpose of :
    • informing and advising the public of government policy and activities;
    • providing information that will enable the public and organisations to understand their own obligations and responsibilities to Government;
    • enabling the public and organisations to understand their entitlements to government assistance;
    • facilitating access to government services; or
    • complying with public accountability requirements.

This includes all materials which agencies are generally obliged to publish or otherwise allow free public access to. This material may also be described as ‘public sector information’. It does not necessarily include materials that have been published for commercial purposes. Nor does it cover materials which are of a sensitive nature, such as information that impacts on national security or information which would destroy the possibility of subsequently obtaining patent protection where such protection is necessary to achieve public benefit.

Permission for public use and re-use of such material should generally be given royalty free and on a non-exclusive basis.

Exclusive licences to use such materials should only be given in exceptional circumstances. ...

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