Friday, July 08, 2005

Dover wants to charge fee for maps - Dover wants to charge fee for maps:

"People wanting maps of town property in Dover now have to pay a fee.

The town board at a recent meeting voted to establish a fee structure for maps printed with geographic information systems software."

(I encourage you to read the entire, short article.)

OK - If I comment again on this subject of fees for access to geographic data & maps, I will simply explode with frustration all over this blog - So in the absense of more logic and reasoned argument let me just say - AHHHHH...

Thankfully in Minnesota this practice is illegal (thank you, Data Practices Act!). In short, Minnesota law states that government agencies can't use access to data as a source of revenue. However, even with the law, many government decision makers still make a valliant effort at charging for GIS and other vital public information, which is of course already being created and maintained for the public good and at the public's expense.

If you haven't read the Minnesota Data Practices Act (Chapter 13) I encourage you to check it out. Granted it has been watered down over the last couple of years (by those who would be assessing fees of course...hmmm). However, it still offers substantial protections to the public's ability to inspect and utilize PUBLIC information.
The most important section is Section 13.03.

From my point of view, here is a brief sum of the protections the Minnesota public has been provided from its own leaders who wish to assess the hell out of them:
"Subdivision 1. Public data. All government data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a state agency, political subdivision, or statewide system shall be public unless classified by statute..."

"Subd. 3. Request for access to data. (a)...If a person requests access for the purpose of inspection, the responsible authority may not assess a charge or require the requesting person to pay a fee to inspect data.

"(c) ...If a person requests copies or electronic transmittal of the data to the person, the responsible authority may require the requesting person to pay the actual costs of searching for and retrieving government data, including the cost of employee time, and for making, certifying, compiling, and electronically transmitting the copies of the data or the data, but may not charge for separating public from not public data..." [i.e. You can only charge ACTUAL costs and cannot go from charging $0.25/map to $8/map or $24/map]

(I guess I went beyond the no comment mark...but at least I don't think I pissed anyone off this time :)


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