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Overhauling copyright

Interesting post last week from Greg Sandoval at The Verge on the subject of overhauling copyright legislation in the US. Maria Pallante, head of the US Copyright Office, is trying to convince Congress to review and revise current copyright legislation and in particular the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which was enacted to deal with Internet copyright issues.

Given that so many people now regularly access the Internet for all types of data and information, in ways not previously anticipated by the legislators such as via smartphones or by uploading user-generated content, copyright is an issue many Internet users run into on a daily basis, consciously or otherwise. Once again, it is another example of technological advances preceding a regulatory framework governing their use.

Copyright issues and the public domain are two of the major themes in The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data. Although vast amounts of spatial data are currently available via the Internet, just because the data are on-line that doesn’t mean to say they are free from copyright restrictions and in the public domain. Given the increasing focus from the US Copyright Office on illegal streaming and anti-piracy efforts, it is as important as ever to always check the terms and conditions for any copyright restrictions that may apply to spatial data, particularly if you intend to use the data for commercial purposes.

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