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Freedom of information in cyberspace: What now for copyright?

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The UK Government's current transparency agenda comes at a time when freedom of information has come into conflict with copyright law. In particular, copyright has been asserted, wrongly in the regulator's view, by public authorities as a reason to prevent release under freedom of information legislation due to the likelihood of any response being published online. This article examines the potential conflict between the right of access to public information and the rights of any copyright holder to control its reuse in cyberspace. It discusses some recent cases, and considers how these could impact copyright law and current licensing norms. The changes proposed by the Protection of Freedoms Bill are considered and three potential routes to resolution proposed for debate, with particular reference to the wider debate about the fitness-for-purpose of copyright in an online and technologically developed world and the potential impact of Article 10. The current consultative environment may represent an opportunity to address freedom of information and copyright tensions, although perhaps only case law will resolve them once and for all.

Keywords: copyright infringement; freedom of information; online publication; public sector information

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Winchester, Holm Lodge 7, Sparkford RoadWinchester,S022 4NR, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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