Developing European legal information markets based on government information

Philip Leith, Karen Mc Cullagh

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This article examines the Directive on re-use of public sector information3 in light of an EU funded project under the eContent programme (ADD-WIJZER4). In outline, the Directive will allow commercial (and other) information providers low cost access to government copyrighted works. Copyright will remain with the relevant government but it will not normally be able to prevent re-use of this material through exclusive licences etc. The aim of the Directive is to increase the production of information products and thus help develop the information marketplace in Europe. Such a legal information marketplace would be expected to have a customer base wider than that of the legal profession. The research in this article5 represents a series of interviews with a representative sample of those who might be expected to be part of a growing ‘legal information marketplace’ and what might be the ‘added value’ which commercial suppliers of legal information might provide to attract them to these envisaged products.

Importantly, we start from the position that in order to compete successfully in the marketplace it will be necessary for information providers to understand how the legal market place utilises legal information at present and what users perceive as being of potential ‘added value’. We will briefly use the conceptual structure of the ‘technology acceptance model’6 to analyse our interview material.

We will also note that a tension exists between the private and public sector over the dissemination of public sector information and that the Directive needed to resolve several issues if the eContent programme of the information society is to succeed. Such issues include: access rights, copyright, competition rules and pricing policies. These have not been attacked in the Directive and we thus feel that it – in comparison to the Proposal for a Directive – offers little to either the public or to commercial re-users of information that is not already on offer at present. The Directive is, perhaps, a failed project in terms of the ultimate aims of the Information Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-281
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Information Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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