The UK government is considering whether to end the principle of Crown copyright, in part because of the impact of the Internet and electronic delivery.
Crown copyright restricts availability of some government information and allows departments to charge for providing of the rest. It covers most of the paperwork related to government and parliament, as well as items such as ordnance survey maps.
However, a consultation document presented to parliament this week advocated removing Crown copyright from some or all government information, given the difficulties of policing the system in the information age.
"The demands of the information age with electronic delivery substituting for print on paper in many areas requires a new approach. The government means to provide a lead and act as a catalyst for others, enabling effective dissemination and distribution of its own official information," it concludes.
The document questions whether there is sufficient availability of government information on the Internet and whether the integrity of information can be ensured with electronic delivery methods.
Responses have been invited from the public and the business community by the end of March, to be considered for inclusion in the forthcoming government white paper on freedom of information.
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