The government hopes to lead by example in lowering copyright standards on public sector information in order to make the internet more accessible.
Tom Watson, UK minister for digital engagement, announced plans at the Public Service Media Conference today for an overhaul of Crown Copyright rules that will make it easier for citizens to reuse government information, and form new standards that will improve the quality of official web sites.
Watson said that the government wants to publicly recognise the amount of " rich content" that businesses are making accessible on the web, like the " ability to download Tate Modern podcasts".
The minister suggested that businesses need to continue to share more and not backtrack. "What I don't want businesses to do is lock up the rich content they've made accessible, and make it difficult for people to get hold of," he said.
The new copyright legislation is "non transactional", meaning that web users will not have to sign up to terms and conditions when reusing public sector content, as was necessitated four years ago when the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations were passed.
"It is my job to liberate government information for the public to do powerful things with," Watson said. "I genuinely believe that information assets are as valuable to us as the roads and rail networks were in the Victorian times. We can enrich our democracy when people can access information relevant to their lives."
Watson acknowledged that the policy is a "new field for the government and for legislators".
"There are great challenges ahead, but I just want to say to you that this is where we have got to go," he concluded.
The Public Service Media Conference was organised by the UK National Commission for UNESCO, along with the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts and Golant Films.
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