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Thursday, October 30, 2003

To Sue or Not to Sue?
Palm Beach County GIS Policy Advisory Committee's $750 answer to their own $20,000 question

At the GIS Policy Advisory Committee (GIS-PAC) meeting held this morning (Thursday - October 30, 2003) the general consensus of the committee was that if they lowered the existing License Agreement Royalty Fee under the Data License Agreement Commercial Use Rider to a reasonable rate they would avoid the threat of litigation. As a result, the committee approved a motion to adopt a revised PPM (#CW-R-007) that includes a revised GIS Policy and License Agreement Royalty Fee Schedule. The commecial royalty fee to obtain the GIS Parcel Shapefiles was lowered from $20,000 to $750 plus the cost of reproduction. Even with the royalty fee adjustment, I still have mixed feelings as to the proposed “solution”. I do not think lowereing the fee justifies the existence of the current data licensing agreement policy in defiance of the AGO #03-42. It also adds potential fuel to the fire as Palm Beach County's GIS Policy and Data License Agreement-Commercial Use Rider are deemed “acceptable” in the eyes of the GIS-PAC. Who knows how many other counties will jump on this bandwagon, setting up similar GIS Policies once they learn that Palm Beach County is still getting away with it. In fact, at the meeting, it was brought up that Broward County has modeled their GIS Policy after Palm Beach County’s current policy. Are they setting a widespread trend, or are we trying to stop one?

The GIS-PAC is worried about the threat of litigation and the committee did not feel that it would be a good idea to wait for the outcome of an ongoing, somewhat similar case in Collier County. Even Lenny Berger, Palm Beach County’s Assistant Attorney, stated that the cost of litigation could go into six figures. The GIS-PAC stated it wasn't worth going into litigation over the little amount of money that they have collected thus far in royalty fees.

The PPM with revised GIS Policy and License Agreement Royalty Fee Schedule will be presented at the Tuesday-November 18th, 2003 Board of County Commisssioners Meeting for approval. The BOCC meeting will be held at 9:30am in the Jane Thompson Memorial Chambers, 6th floor, of the Governmental Center. (301 N. Olive Ave. - West Palm Beach, FL) Once again I urge you to attend.