Who Controls Access to Public Crime Data?

Who Owns Public Crime Data?

We were recently tipped off to a case in the federal courts that raises all sorts of legal issues about some questionable interpretations of the law — many of which we’ve discussed here recently. It involves a Utah company, named Public Engines, suing a competitor, named Report See. Public Engines, it appears, contracts with various police departments around the country to get crime data from them, and then they put that data online in various formats. Its main business tends to be working with law enforcement and providing them software and services around that data. But, it also presents the data publicly on the site CrimeReports.com. Apparently, law enforcement agencies pay Public Engines to provide data to the site. Public Engines claims it does work on that data, to “de-identify” it and make it appear in a more user-friendly format.  … Along comes Report See. It operates a similar site, called SpotCrime.com. However, its business model is different. It seeks to get the data for free — combing various other sources and working out deals with law enforcement itself. … You can probably see where this is headed. …

For the full text of the article, click here.

Source: Michael Masnick, TechDirt, June 14, 2010.



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