Currently we can do this without having any legal concern that we are depriving someone else of subsequent revenue for which they have no defined plan on that specific day.
MR. GLICK: I have had a very similar experience. If you include in the current legal and policy regime the whole public-domain issue —the U.S. perspective on public domain that was discussed in the last plenary session—that clearly would be the highest importance to us. The fact that in the United States we have the right to use public-domain data without any cost at all to us and without any restrictions is essential. For protection we also rely primarily on licensing.
I note, and there are some people who know a lot more about this than I do, that one of the legal protections that has been discussed here is shrink-wrap licensing. I note that this is under attack and may not hold water, the whole concept of implied license when someone tears a shrink-wrap. The kind of licenses that we have on our Web site—which are basically that you agree, by using our Web site, to our license terms, which include our third-party license terms—I doubt that that would hold water either.
So, the existing protections are very weak in terms of the benefits they provide to the company. In our industry there is a kind of ad hoc assumption of what fair use is. For example, we can use multiple copyrighted materials to compile from as long as we don't rely on a single one, and we have got confirmation from a number of them; that is something we rely on and that is important. I don't know if that is codified anywhere, but that seems to be generally accepted practice.
DR. BRAMMER: I think I can make a couple of distinctions. First, on the supply side of our weather information in the United States, I would say that the principal benefit is the policy that the National Weather Service has had of providing a defined external interface that allows private corporations access to information in a defined way. It allows the Weather Service freedom to alter their own operations without altering the interface and allows us to get data in a predictable way, and then to add value and disseminate them. We pay back the cost of that. The Weather Service is providing us the information, but then we are free to use it for our commercial businesses. Occasionally there are problems in deciding exactly what the government is going to do and what the private sector is going to do, but by and large those are issues we can resolve.
On the customer side of our business, there we have a variety of terms in which we can license the information to a secondary distributor under certain terms and conditions, or it can be sold or licensed directly to an end user.
In either case those mechanisms seem adequate. At least we don't see widespread misappropriation or improper redistribution of our information. I think part of that is due to the fact that most of the data are real-time information, but mostly I think we are just dealing with real commercial businesses that want to know the terms and conditions under which they are operating and then they negotiate a satisfactory price for that. So by and large this has worked well for us.
If we look at this internationally it is a lot less clear to me. Most of our revenues are from domestic U.S. sales. So a lot of this is relatively new territory for us. The various international weather services don't have the same sort of mechanisms as our National Weather Service, and there is a definite ambivalence on providing access to some of their information on reasonable terms. In some cases the prices are so high that purchasing it would not be commercially viable. That seems to be changing, but it is very recent. We also have problems with redistribution. We have some international customers, and as far as I can tell they are not doing anything improper