growing international markets, we would like to see uniformity in international laws for intellectual property.
9. Do you believe that the main problems/barriers/issues you have described above are representative of other similar data activities in your discipline or sector? If so, which ones? If not, what other major issues can you identify that other organizations in your area of activity face? The problems that we face are representative of those faced by similar data activities elsewhere. The strict time-limit requirements of much of our business is a limitation to some of the unauthorized copying and redistribution issues that other types of information businesses may face. Furthermore, the image and graphic products are somewhat easier to protect under copyright than archival text databases. These are not the reasons that we are focused primarily on real-time information services, but that aspect does provide some measure of protection.
PARTICIPANT: You mentioned that some of your sales go back to government agencies. What, if any, restrictions are placed on the redistribution or open access to those data sets that go back to government organizations?
DR. BRAMMER: Generally, the government agencies contract for them for their own use; and the redistribution—we come to an agreement in the contract for those services, and how they're used.
PARTICIPANT: Could one access it under the Freedom of Information Act?
DR. BRAMMER: That really hasn't come up. One of the advantages of that part of our business is that those are real-time products for the most part. The unauthorized redistribution has not, at least to date, been a real problem for us. Occasionally we see some of our image products on the covers of publications, maybe an image product from a hurricane or some other special event. We copyright all of these image products, and we believe that these copyrights are viable. Occasionally they are violated. So, it hasn't been a big loss in revenue, but we do see it once in a while. As far as I am aware, we haven't had a Freedom of Information Act occurrence with our customers.
DR. SERAFIN: I was reminded by Barbara Ryan earlier that we have been looking at four different disciplinary types of databases. Within each of these we have heard about the fact that there are distributed diverse data sets within these disciplines, through which the combination or the integration can result in rather significant scientific advances.
She also pointed out—and I think this is important—that there are also benefits to be gained, and perhaps even greater benefits, by going across those disciplines, and the four that we talked about this morning are only four. There are many others that would be valid and worthwhile to cut across. We are using these today, I think, as our examples of databases and how they might be used. By no means do we have an exhaustive list before us.