Government Data as Intellectual Property: Is Public Domain the Same as Open Access?

Key points to highlight: U.S. federal government data is released into the public domain. This raises concerns about:

  • privacy and security of data about individuals
  • the potential for enclosure if the U.S. government does not maintain human readable interfaces, i.e. if the open data is used by commercial companies to create toll access services and the government does not provide free end user services, this would be an instance of open commercial use effectively creating enclosure (or privatizing what is currently free government services)

Abstract

Public domain and open data policies and how they are made. Current status of open data policies in the Federal government are changing with new laws. What is HR4174/S4047 and what does it say and mean? What are trends in government data policies regarding access to that statistical data? This article will give the reader an understanding of federal policies and laws regarding data.