Fwd: [open-gov] Milwauke County let Private Utility Corporations (AT&T) copyright our public data

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Alnisa Allgood

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May 5, 2009, 8:57:13 AM5/5/09
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Wasn't certain if people were aware of this, the city of Milwaukee is planning on giving a group of private utilities the ability to copyright 'public data' in exchange for making it available  on the web. See Dan'ss email for more details.

Alnisa

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Knauss <dan.k...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, May 2, 2009 at 12:15 PM
Subject: [open-gov] Milwauke County let Private Utility Corporations (AT&T) copyright our public data
To: Open Government <open-go...@googlegroups.com>



This is something I just sent around locally,  but I would certainly
appreciate any insight from others in this group on what may be going
on here at our state and county level in Wisconsin.

======

Dear Milwaukeeans and others concerned with the public interest in the
digital, networked age:

If the following information grabs your interest and/or you already
know something about it, I would very much appreciate your help and
insight in understanding it better.

Specifically, what is the public interest, and what is at stake?

Here are what seem to be the basic facts the Milwaukee County
Automated Mapping and Land Information System (MCAMLIS):

http://www.county.milwaukee.gov/LandInformationProgr23113/LIOInteractiveMapping.htm

There is NO GEODATA EXPORT for the public. You must get a secure login
account as a governmental unit or as an authorized employee of WE,
SEWRPC, AT&T, or MMSD.

You can, in some cases, export data in XLS format (Microsoft Excel)--
for example City data that is already publicly available and has just
been copied into this County system.

So perhaps not the data itself but all means of reasonable access to
it as GEODATA has been COPYRIGHTED by the private utility companies
who paid for the system to be developed:

http://www.county.milwaukee.gov/LandInformationProgr23113/LIOInteractiveMapping/InteractiveMappingFAQs.htm

http://www.county.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/Groups/cntyArchEng/Data_Requisition_Guidelines.pdf

My reading of the licensing contract is that you clearly can’t even
post a screendump image from MCAMLIS online without violating
copyright.

Furthermore, it appears that MCAMLIS is funded partly by sale of
Register of Deeds data to 3rd party providers of these crappy fee-
based systems, which I have been forced to use in the past in the
process of slumlord research:

LAREDO ($500/mo) and TAPESTRY ($5.95 per search query and $0.50 per
page)

http://county.milwaukeecounty.org/display/router.asp?docid=9846

There is also a fee-based 3rd party provider used if you want a copy
of your vital records:

http://www.vitalchek.com/milwaukee-county-express-vital-records.aspx

This is pretty crazy to the point of unusable--but there is more data
now than there used to be:

http://www.searchregdeeds.milwcnty.com/

The WI Register of Deeds Assoc. website, as bad as it is, remains a
more accessible window into the County than the County website:

http://www.wrdaonline.org/

Also of interest:

Press Release for TSA Signing Ceremony: Electronic Recording Council
of Wisconsin

http://www.wrdaonline.org/PressReleases/ElectronicRecordingCouncilSigningCeremony.pdf

The Electronic Recording Council of Wisconsin and representatives from
several companies who actively record or provide special computer
programs that record documents electronically will gather for a
special Ceremony on May 6, 2009, at

11:00 a.m. in the Governor’s Conference Room.

Invited signatories will sign the new Trusted Submitter Agreement
(TSA) designating a new era of electronic partnership with local and
state government. Craig Haskins from Knight-Barry Title, Kelly
Blanchard from the Bank of

Cambridge, and industry representatives from Ingeo, Applied Computer
Systems, Fidlar Software, US Recordings and Simplifile will be on hand
to sign the new three-page document.

E-filing may speed home titles: With state's first deed processed
electronically, more are in store

By JOANNE CLEAVER

jcle...@journalsentinel.com

Posted: Jan. 26, 2008

http://www.wrdaonline.org/PressReleases/MilwaukeeCountyeRecord2008-01-28.pdf

An example of GOOD governmant data sharing is the DNR and the Great
Lakes Information Network (GLIN) -- full public access to raw data in
open standard formats:

http://gis.glin.net/ogc/services.php?by=topiclm_coho_locs_mfa.kmz#usgl_principal_ports_2005

http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/maps/gis/

When GOOD data sharing ocurs, this is what happens:

...it gets used by public and private academic institutions:

http://www.geography.wisc.edu/maplib/gis.html

http://coastal.lic.wisc.edu/wisconsin-ims/wisconsin-ims.htm

http://libinfo.uark.edu/GIS/us.asp

http://sco.wisc.edu/wisclinc/ [WISCLINC is a clearinghouse effort in
Wisconsin maintained by the Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office.
WISCLINC is part of a network of NSDI nodes which contribute to the
progress of federal initatives such as Geospatial One-Stop and The
National Map. WISCLINC pulls together records of geospatial data, land
records websites and statewide land information inventory survey.]

http://sco.wisc.edu/wisclinc/survey/index.php

...it gets shared among the states and federal gov:

http://gisinventory.net/about.html

http://gos2.geodata.gov/wps/portal/gos

http://datagateway.nrcs.usda.gov/

...and private entities try to sell it:

http://data.geocomm.com/








--
......................

Alnisa Allgood
Executive Director
Nonprofit Tech
t. 608.241.3616
e. aln...@nonprofit-tech.org

Dan Knauss

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May 5, 2009, 9:53:12 AM5/5/09
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They've already done it. AT&T and WE Energies paid for the MCAMLIS system, so they made sure that MCAMLIS as an entity asserted a copyright. MCAMLIS members include all the County governments, I believe. And when City data that is unlicensed, relatively open access, goes into MCAMLIS it becomes proprietary on that end.


 
 
 

Dan Knauss

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/danknauss
New Local Media :: www.newlocalmedia.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/newlocalmedia

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Alnisa Allgood

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May 5, 2009, 10:02:44 AM5/5/09
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My question is access to the data, still available through other means? Is anyone requesting public data forced to used MCAMLIS, or can they access the data from other means? 

It seems to me the contract would be up for legal challenge, not ideal obviously, but items in the public domain, stay in the public domain unless otherwise modified. It can be argued that MCAMLIS creates a new 'creative' version of the items that can be copyrighted, not that I would. But technically the text/content itself would still be reusable just not the format. 

Anyway, that would be just my theory, but it's ridiculous that any city/county would place their public in the position to be forced to prove it, either way.

Alnisa

Douglas A. Whitfield

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May 5, 2009, 10:05:14 AM5/5/09
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On Tue, May 5, 2009 at 8:53 AM, Dan Knauss <d...@newlocalmedia.com> wrote:
> They've already done it. AT&T and WE Energies paid for the MCAMLIS system,
> so they made sure that MCAMLIS as an entity asserted a copyright. MCAMLIS
> members include all the County governments, I believe. And when City data
> that is unlicensed, relatively open access, goes into MCAMLIS it becomes
> proprietary on that end.

I didn't read any of the links, but after scanning the e-mail, it
wasn't clear to me how things had changed. Where did this date
formerly reside?

Dan Knauss

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May 5, 2009, 1:27:44 PM5/5/09
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Some of the publicly visible data in MCAMLIS is from SEWRPC. They have a terrible website and I doubt it provides any GS data because they've never done well even providing meeting records there. I find SEWRPC data sets in State and Federal sites. Some of this stuff trickles into commercial entities that repackage and sell it.

The MKE City data in MCAMLIS also resides in City of Milwaukee databases. When it enters MCAMLIS, that version of the data comes under the MCAMLIS trademark and copyright. The City of Milwauke is being paid by MCAMLIS for data and data systems services.

It seems to me that this arrangement will get murkier as the City and MCAMLIS systems are further integrated over time to the point that there may be no physical or technical distinction between the two. I guess if the City gives it to you, it's free and open; if the County/MCAMLIS gives it to you, it's not. But the only thing MCAMLIS cares about (really is utility membrs) is the data you cannot see and don’t know about that they have locked up in there.

> -----Original Message-----

> From: oe...@googlegroups.com [mailto:oe...@googlegroups.com]

> On Behalf Of Douglas A. Whitfield

> Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 9:05 AM

> To: oe...@googlegroups.com

> Subject: [oemke] Re: [open-gov] Milwauke County let Private

> Utility Corporations (AT&T) copyright our public data

>

>

>

> On Tue, May 5, 2009 at 8:53 AM, Dan Knauss

> <d...@newlocalmedia.com> wrote:

> MCAMLIS system,

> copyright. MCAMLIS

> when City data

> MCAMLIS it becomes

> > proprietary on that end.

>

> formerly reside?

>

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Dan Knauss

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May 5, 2009, 1:21:19 PM5/5/09
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I don't know the extent of the data in MCAMLIS or who may be asking for it. Some of it is in a closed access area for the utilities and governmental partners. I'd assume it includes data that the utilities have created/are creating. If they are doing so with any public funding, that is problematic. If there is government data in there that has no other public access point that is also problematic.


I have been told by a veteran County Gov watcher that SEWRPC got County funding for MCAMLIS including about $280,000 marked for a water supply study. A former SEWRPC executive director is on the committee that controls MCAMLIS, and they get staff work from SEWRPC. (SEWRPC is an unelected regional authority whose appointed board seats are filled in proportion to the land sizes of the 7 Counties--a system designed to keep Milwaukee under their thumb and to serve the interests of suburban-exurban sprawl.


I assume you could get any data in MCAMLIS that has ties to public funding (or maybe all data in MCAMLIS because of its public ties) via a FOIA request, but in what form they are equipped or willing to dole out the data I do not know. They may say hardcopy at $.25/page, how much do you want of 100,000 pages? That is what MPD used to do to the Journal Sentinel under Chief Jones.


The whole MCAMLIS deal seems to be a real snarl of public-private funding and ownership. The obvious intent of their licensing is to prohibit public access to the data as data. You can get screen dumps and hard copy, not real raw data. Is that legally defensible? I doubt it.


As for the data that IS publicly accessible in MCAMLIS, I don't know if it has ever had the legal status of "public domain." What is the default legal status of government data that is subject to FOIA disclosure?


I think all the data you can see on a public access level in MCAMLIS may be available by other means. Some of it is from SEWRPC which can be found elsewhere in proprietary formats. Some of it is from the City of Milwaukee, which also uses propriety formats but does not (to my knowledge) use restrictive licensing. The City does however not provide public access to raw data or databases. You have to be in certain professional or NGO circles to get it at this point. It may be possible to go to a university like UWM and use ArcGIS there to tap into some City GIS databases. Otherwise, you can try asking or resort to FOIA.


The main proprietary software and data formats in use are ArcGIS and ESRI. The State and all its agencies have recently tied in closely with Arc seems to have a virtual monopoly on WI (and other states') GIS systems and software. There are open source alternatives. I have seen in the past that Arc and other sources provide some means of conversion of data from their ESRI format to open standards formats like KML, so how closed it all is now on a practical level may depend on your technical resources. It seems to me that the state-level trend is at various with federal trends toward XML standards and other open standards.


It may be years or never before "the public" grasps a public interest angle on this stuff. Meanwhile the govs and corps do what they do. Wauwatosa has an RFP out now for a new "website" which actually sounds like an ignorant request for a private entity to take over their entire data infrastructure, expand it, and set up a ticket/support system for things like construction permits. Most of the smaller county and municipal governments already seem to depend heavily on private firms like Ruekert-Mielke for full web development, data and GIS services. How does public access to data work when nobody in the gov "owner" understands it and has no technical ability or competence to access the data at all unless systems are built with good output features? I have looked at several different county and municipal RFPs for things like this recently and none of them are anywhere near asking that kind of question. They are aiming to be closed by default in perhaps the worst sense of closed. Nobody in the gov entity can even try to suppress data because they are not actually the ones who have it.


 

Dan Knauss

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/danknauss
New Local Media :: www.newlocalmedia.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/newlocalmedia

-----Original Message-----
From: oe...@googlegroups.com [mailto:oe...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Alnisa Allgood

Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 9:03 AM
To: oe...@googlegroups.com

Dan Knauss (dan@newlocalmedia.com).vcf
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