* Posts by Bob Barr

2 posts • joined 19 Apr 2013

How to save UK's open data: Meet the 'Fair Value Licence'

Bob Barr

Open PAF now!

Errrr? Isn't that what VAT and corporation tax is for? Those will return the value of Open Data to the taxpayer without the need for costly and unnecessary bureaucracy and that is why the 'fair value' licence shouldn't apply to public data. Before you say what about the Googles and Vodaphones who don't pay tax, that's a completely separate problem that needs to be solved anyway. They wouldn't be bothered by the few crumbs of tax on re-using Public Data. At the moment Google are voting with their cheque book and refusing to licence PAF data for use on their maps, where it would be valuable for their users, but wouldn't increase traffic enough to justify paying.

If your attitude had held sway as the internet and www developed they would be crippled by tollgates and micropayments making up much of the traffic. It is the open environment that reaps dividends and creates value and that environment is now an essential infrastructure even while vested interests try to undermine the principle. Public core reference data such as postcodes and addresses is a similar infrastructure whose use needs to be maximised not tied up in complex licences and expensive fee collecting mechanisms.

Anyone fancy paying for DNS lookups on the internet? Making people pay for postcode or address look ups on the internet or in the 'real' is similarly daft!

That's why we need to open the Postcode Address File now and not cripple its use by excessive upstream charging or cumbersome licensing.

Bob Barr

Returning value to the taxpayer

Errr? Isn't that what VAT and Corporation Tax will do to anyone who creates derived products for sale from Open Data? ... without all the paperwork bureaucracy and licence police your scheme would involve. Before you say Google, Vodaphone etc don't pay enough tax, sure, but that is a problem you need to solve anyway and they won't care about the tiny crumbs they would have to pay when exploiting your closed version of Open Data.

If your attitude had prevailed the www and the internet would be crippled by electronic toll booths and micro-payments making up most of the traffic. Some of those with vested interests would still like to cripple the internet that way. Yet, as a low cost of access relatively level playing field, open public infrastructure the internet has revolutionised communications and the economy. Open data, such as the Postcode Address File is just such an infrastructure.

Anyone fancy privatising the DNS system and charging for DNS look-ups? In the same way that that would cripple the internet, charging for postcode data cripples its use in the 'real' world.

What is really being sold is the right to toll any internet transaction that involves a postcode look-up as well as other postcode use which isn't growing. That's a Tax! Selling tax raising powers is simply wrong.

Open PAF now!