by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 6th 2008 10:03am
Paul Alan Levy writes "The county tax assessor in Charleston, West Virginia, has sued a local tech company that had the audacity to post public tax maps from the entire state of West Virginia on its web site. The company obtained the maps under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for a total charge of $20 for 28000 maps (the actual cost of copying electronic files to CDs). The tax assessor complains that she stands to lose the profit she makes by selling paper tax maps at $8 per sheet. Why should you care? If the county tax assesor wins her case, it could affect other Web sites and bloggers that make public government records available on the Internet." Apparently, what some people have a different idea of what "public" information means than others... especially when the government stands to profit from that information. While government documents cannot be covered by copyright, apparently some gov't officials feel that preventing their ability to profit off of that public data is illegal.
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