Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens


Information World Review points to benefits of “fair use’ on economy

Information World Review, which has joined the Free Our Data campaign, has pointed to a study comparing the economic benefits of industries which use copyright-controlled data, and those which use non-controlled data.

The copyright-controlled side generates less economic benefit under the study (though we have to admit having seen a critique by Nick Carr, a columnist for Guardian Technology, pointing out that the study is amazingly wide-ranging – and includes entire industries which may lie on both sides of the “copyright/unrestricted” fence.

It is difficult to do economic analyses of such things. For instance Google runs on the free Linux operating system. But you won’t find it giving out copies to Microsoft (even if Microsoft wanted it). Is that copyrighting, or unpaid use? The argument surely is that Linux *enables* Google to build a huge business which relies, internally, on all sorts of copyrighted, and closely-guarded details. In the same way, making government data free for the benefit of all citizens would give us the foundations for new businesses which could do remarkable things. GPS remains the classic example.

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