OSGeo has been asked to sign an amicus brief for an open data court case in California.
Dan Putler wrote the following on osgeo-discuss on 16 Dec 2011:
I've been in contact with Bruce Joffe who has been working on an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief associated with two court decisions that have gone in completely opposite directions in California, one involving Santa Clara County and the other involving Orange County. The legal point is the same in both cases, is GIS data (parcel data in particular) data or is it software? If it is data, then it is covered under the California Public Records Act, requiring that it be released to the public for reproduction costs, if it is software, it isn't covered, and is subject to licensing fees. The judge in the Santa Clara County case (correctly) determined it was data, while the judge in the Orange County case (incorrectly) determined it was software. The case is now heading to the California Supreme Court, and Bruce Joffe is rounding up potential individuals and organizations to sign on to the amicus curiae brief. More details about the situation was posted on the Directions Magazine daily newsletter on Wednesday. Here is the link to the article: http://www.directionsmag.com/articles/sierra-club-vs-orange-county-pra-lawsuit-update-december-10-2011/219926
Michael P. Gerlek (mpg) is in touch with Bruce Joffe and is doing some homework on this issue in expectation of asking the OSGeo Board for approval to add our name to the brief.
The process for getting Board approval is documented here: http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Protocol_for_requesting_letter_of_support.
The following documents provide a good summary of (both sides of) the issue:
- (D) Amicus Brief by Bruce Joffe, in support of The Sierra Club (no link yet)
- (E) Amicus Brief of League of Cal. Cities and Cal. State Assoc. of Counties, in Support of Orange County
For further reading, previous filings and briefs are archived at http://www.calpubrec.org/oclawsuit/appeal/index.html.
Added by Dan Putler:
Another important analysis is contained in the California Attorney General's opinion on the matter requested by the state legislature at the time of the original Santa Clara County case.