Chapter 4 addresses items 1, 2, and 3 in the committee’s Statement of Task: licensing experiences of stakeholder groups, ways in which licensing serves agency missions and interests of other stakeholders, and advantages and disadvantages of licensing as seen from different perspectives.

Chapters 5 through 7 present the legal, economic, and public interest arguments that relate to licensing geographic data and services.

Chapter 8 presents guidelines for deciding when licensing to and from government may be appropriate and, if so, under what terms. The chapter also addresses Task 4 by presenting license-based models that could satisfy the range of stakeholders.

Chapter 9, describes strategies that could make current licensing institutions more efficient and also more responsive to the interests of all affected parties (Task 6). The chapter also addresses aspects of Tasks 4 and 5 (downstream impacts of licensing).

The committee’s recommendations, initially presented in Chapters 8 and 9, are collected together in Chapter 10.

A series of vignettes, or “dream scenarios” is dispersed among each of the chapters. Realization of these dreams hinges on whether policy and/or technological solutions can be developed to address a license or nonlicense option. With each vignette, the vision builds in complexity to illustrate a possible future that accommodates the broadest range of stakeholders in geographic data and services. Chapter 9 lays out specific strategies and institutions that can or could help the geographic data community reach this goal.

Lastly, the appendixes provide a range of resources. Appendix C contains background information on the scope of geographic information. Appendix D summarizes current licensing models. Appendix E contains a glossary of terms,3 and Appendix F lists acronyms used in the report.


This report repeatedly uses such terms as “data,” “information,” “works,” “services,” “purchase,” “license,” “ownership,” “public domain,” “open access content,” and “information commons.” In the interests of clarity, we define them now, at the outset. Other authors sometimes use different definitions and the reader should keep these definitions clearly in mind to avoid misunderstandings.


Some key terms are also described in Section 1.4 of this chapter.

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