Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Revising the directive on the re-use of public sector information

Public sector information (PSI, the information held by governments) is very valuable and its value is expecting to increase in the next decades. The first PSI European Union directive is dated 2003 (2003/98/EC) and it has been amended after ten years, in 2013 (2013/37/EU). However, it presented many limitations and in fact the European Commission launched a public consultation in late 2017. The consultation received many feedbacks (slightly less than 300), including one from the energy modelling community (download), that is definitely worth reading because it summarises in its 23 pages the current limitations in licenses, data access & quality and fair use.

A few days ago, the European Parliament has published a “EU Legislation in Progress” summarising the current state of the revision describing the current state and the proposed changes that I report here:

  1. The provision of real-time access to dynamic/real-time data via adequate technical means:
  2. Limiting the use of exceptions to the principle of charging the marginal cost
  3. Preventing the emergence of new forms of exclusive arrangement between public sector bodies and re-users
  4. Increasing the supply of high-value public data for re-use

The document also summarises the received feedbacks (see page 7), including the one from the energy modelling community:

The open energy modelling community stated that many of the datasets they required for energy modelling and analysis were either not available, of a poor quality (despite mandatory transparency requirements) or ambiguously licensed or implicitly protected. In these latter cases, they stated: ‘it may well not be lawful to use, repair, combine, and/or redistribute this data. While open licensing can address many of the issues we encounter, we believe that the law on copyright urgently needs to be overhauled to deal effectively with PSI, digital data, and the growing internet-mediated information commons’.

A final remark: one of the changes that can be seen in the recast is fact that the sui generis database protection should not be exercised any more from public-sector bodies:

  1. The right for the maker of a database provided for in Article 7(1) of Directive 96/9/EC shall not be exercised by public sector bodies in order to prevent or restrict the re-use of documents pursuant to this Directive.

If you are interested on this topic, you might also join the discussion in the Google Group of the Open Energy Modelling Initiative (openmod)

Senior Data Scientist