U.S. State Court Makes GIS Data Subject to Access Law

10 July 2013

A California state court ruled July 8 that the state records formatted with an electronic geographic information system (GIS) are subject to the state records law at nominal cost.

 “The California Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Sierra Club v. County of Orange means that the Sierra Club, which has been seeking Orange County’s basic set of land data since 2007, will have to pay only the actual cost of duplication to obtain the information in GIS format, which allows for sophisticated electronic analysis,” according to a summary by the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press and an article in Legal Planet.

The California Public Records Act permits the licensing of computer software, but the unanimous court decided that the Constitution required a broad interpretation of whether GIS codes data should be available. GIS software itself, the court ruled, can still be licensed.

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