IEEE TCDL Bulletin
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TCDL Bulletin
Volume 3   Issue 2
Summer 2007


Managing Intellectual Property Issues in a Commons of Geographic Data

James Campbell, Marilyn Lutz, David McCurry, Harlan Onsrud, Kenton Williams
University of Maine
348 Boardman Hall
Orono, ME 04469
(207) 581-2175


A significant body of currently "invisible" locally generated non-textual geographic data exists on the hard drives and back-up systems of individual researchers, schools, non-profit groups, private associations, small companies, and other non-governmental organizations.

The data gathered by these small local originators could be of great value to others – if its existence and conditions for use were known. A Commons of Geographic Data intends to provide the essential infrastructure needed to store and make accessible this currently "invisible" spatial data for use by anyone.

To encourage potential contributors of this currently "invisible" data to make it available to others in a commons environment, there must be an intellectual property infrastructure in place which:

  • enables potential contributors to indicate what usage rights, if any, they wish to maintain for themselves, and what rights others may exercise in use of the contributed material without obtaining prior permission
  • adheres those chosen use conditions to the contributed data files
  • transfers usage conditions to standards based metadata
  • is legally binding
  • minimizes the contributor's legal liability for use of the data by others
  • makes usage conditions easily and clearly discernable by users throughout the usage life of the data.

The Commons of Geographic Data project is designing a software infrastructure which will be rigorous on the "back end" in meeting these requirements for locationally-referenced data while, at the same time, being simple and transparent enough to the user on the "front end" to encourage contributions to the commons.

Thumbnail image of poster

For a larger view of Figure 1, click here.


© Copyright 2007 James Campbell, Marilyn Lutz, David McCurry, Harlan Onsrud, and Kenton Williams
Some or all of these materials were previously published in the Proceedings of the 6th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital libraries, ACM 1-59593-354-9.

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