Update: HMSO changes name

The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) is the new name for Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. Its function is still much the same as before, though now rather than just restrictively enforcing Crown Copyright, the stated aim is “providing a practical framework of best practice for opening up and encouraging the re-use of public sector information.” As such it has the lead for the UK implementation of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations which came into force on 1 July 2005.

Of course, the simplest and best way to maximise use and reuse of public sector information would be to abolish the feudal Crown Copyright laws. Such a freewheeling system operates in the United States of America and that is why the USA is the leading creator of information databases globally. Europeans complain about the American hegemony of online information (Google, Medline, Edubase, Lexis Nexis, Westlaw, various mapping databases) but then fail utterly to implement the kind of public copyright system that leads to the creation of such databases. Instead we have the weasley EU Directive on Public Sector Information.

This will not help public interest websites in the UK who must still pay extortionate rates to access OS maps or land registers – all information created and compiled by what are, ultimately, public bodies funded by taxpayers’ money. Public interest websites such as Up My Street or Write To Them have to beg and plead for public information and almost build their sites illegally because the government is so intent on making a few quick bucks at the expense of greater public good and overall economic growth.

One Response to “Update: HMSO changes name”

  1. Mynamegoeshere says:

    I really don’t think we would be wise to copy the USA thank you very much indeed.

    I agree with you that the access to information in the UK is minimal compared to what it should be.

    I object, however, to Labour’s removal of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office as an institution. If you researched it, you’d find that the Queen usually operates with more dispassionate concern for the public good as a whole than politicians do.

    Most of us are pretty sick and tired by Labour’s ‘reform’ and ‘modernisation’ bollocks. This OPSI creation is yet another tawdry example of it. It’ll hobble this country for years to come, and would annoy many of those who see the benefit of the sovereign being a symbol of our sovereignty, not to be toyed with by fly-by-nights in Downing Street.

    It’s the politicians who won’t reform the old HMSO system that have designed this new OPSI system as a way of accruing more power unto themselves. I know that the monarch would not have resisted opening up the information on the Crown Copyright system; it’s the Kings and Queens of Downing Street who are resisting such a thing, and in supporting the abolishment of the sovereign system of Crown Copyright you’re playing into the hands of the politicians. It’s a shame you can’t see through what they’ve done.

    Your comments don’t address, either, the QUALITY of the information. You just assert that use and reuse should be made easier. That is only half of the story: what is the point in making it easier to use and reuse national information if that information is bollocks? Holding the information under Crown Copyright is correct. What was – and is – incorrect is the politicians’ refusal to acknowledge that the Crown holds it on the nation’s behalf, not on the government’s behalf.

    In short, focus on the government’s abuse of power, not the Crown issue (it’s a red herring).

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