Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Australian Government releases historic budget - under a Creative Commons copyright license

Media commentators have called the Australian Government's budget "austere", "responsible" and "boring but good".

I call it historic.

Why so?

Look at the copyright information in Budget Paper 1: BUDGET STRATEGY AND OUTLOOK. Budget Papers 2, 3 and 4 have been released on a similar basis.

What is different?

For the first time in history the Australian Government has released major parts of the Federal Budget under a Creative Commons (CC BY) copyright license.

This means that the public has the right, without first asking permission via the Attorney-General's office, to copy, mash-up, reuse and publicly republish data from appropriately licensed parts of the budget. They are legally entitled to use this material, provided they attribute the source, to create new and innovative works and insights.

This differs from previous Australian Government budgets where the contents were locked up tight under Commonwealth Copyright. While substantial rights were granted for the reuse of material in news reporting and private study, there was no right to otherwise mash-up or republish material publicly without asking permission.

Is this only historic from the perspective of past national Australian Governments?

I don't think so.

To my knowledge this is the first budget released by any government in Australian at any level under a license permitting reuse in this fashion - federal, state or local.

That's a lot of governments over more than 200 years.

Is this only historic from an Australian perspective?

Internationally this may be even more remarkable.

While copyright provisions vary around the world, Australia well be the first nation in the world to publish a national government budget under Creative Commons licensing.

That make the 2010-2011 Australian Government budget a truly historic budget.

1 comment:

  1. This is a good step, and an excellent precedent. The news media have jumped on board too - visualistions and infographics abound today.

    It would also be good to see the Government release a usable budget dataset, preferably in a decent usable format like .CSV

    You can extract the numbers from the .PDF of the budget paper, but it's such a hassle. It would literally be the work of moments for them to upload the spreadsheet they used to Would have saved a lot of people a whole lot of time and effort, and opened the budget up to more analysis and discussion.