Wednesday, September 17, 2003
As a result of the cancellation of the September 16th GIS Policy Advisory Committee meeting, I am writing you in preparation for the next GIS Policy Advisory Committee meeting tenatively scheduled for October 14th, 2003 at 2pm at the Government Center (301 N. Olive Ave. – 11th Floor West Palm Beach, FL)
One of the issues to be discussed at the meeting involves a recently issued opinion which I pursued from the State Attorney’s Office under the Open Government Mediation Program. A copy of the Attorney General’s Opinion #03-42 dated September 3, 2003 addressed to Ms. Denise Nieman, Palm Beach County Attorney, can be viewed at the following link:
Attorney General’s Opinion #03-42
Within the opinion Charlie Crist states “In sum, it is my opinion that, in light of Florida’s Public Records Law, Palm Beach County is not authorized to obtain copyright protection and require license agreements for its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps and related data in order to regulate and authorize redistribution of these materials for commercial use.”
The opinion clearly contradicts the provisions included within Resolution No. R-98-520 which was adpoted on April 21st, 1998. The resolution can be viewed at the folllowing link:
PBC Resolution No. R-98-520
The GIS parcel shapefiles are public records, were developed using taxpayer’s money, and are used internally by the County’s Engineering Departments, Planning and Zoning Departments, Utilities Departments, and Property Appraiser Office. Palm Beach County has copyrighted these public records and charges a $20,000 fee in order to obtain the right to be able to redistribute these public records. I have researched more than twenty-four other counties within Florida and Palm Beach County is the only county which has implemented such a policy.
I urge you to attend this meeting to express your own opinion!