PSI Directive (Directive on the re-use of public sector information)

Today I had a chance to visit LAPSI 2.0 project conference (The European Thematic Network on Legal Aspects of Public Sector Information). Wikipedia has a good definition of the directive:

Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information, otherwise known as the PSI Directive[2][3] is an EU directive that encourages EU member states to make as much public sector information available for re-use as possible.

Speakers dealt mostly with EU level policy discussion either on specifics of the directive or issues in this area in member states specifically. What follows is a few of my notes that I hope will help me remember things from the event in 2 years time. I haven’t read the directive yet and since I’m not a lawyer my conclusions are probably wrong.

Getting the data

Historically speaking, Slovenia has had one of the most progressive Freedom of Information Act’s, coupled with very proactive Office of Information Commissioner. This meant that filing an FOIA request to PSB (public sector body) was often the most efficient way to get access to data that they gather or produce.

While this works fairly well for some parts, it still has its own limits. PSI solves that by further encouraging PSB’s to make data and information openly available. It further makes it harder to charge and limit access by requiring institutions to explain why access is limited, together with business and cost calculations.

I can’t find the source in published texts, but part of the discussion also revolved about this applying to Libraries and Cultural Works. This will present both a challenge for existing archives as well as opportunities for new ways to disseminate this content.

What’s the point?

Economy. There is a huge body of work and case studies that show that once you open up this data to greater public it provides exponential return on investment through new services and uses for it. The less limits, the more potential can be realised.

For me, it’s often hard to see use for a lot of the data that we find online or it would require distortional development investment to make it useful. On the other hand, most of this data and content was already paid using public money, so EU is betting that just opening everything will have huge economic impact.

When?

“Soon”. The way I understood is that we’ll see implementations into local EU member states sometime in 2015. But because of the direction and the work going in this area it should be possible to already use arguments and approaches within existing laws and individual agreements with institutions.

Additional Resources