Public bodies produce, collect and share vast amounts of information. Most of this public sector information (PSI) has commercial potential for re-use as the basis for new added value products and services. According to a survey of 2006, the overall market size for PSI in the EU is estimated at € 27 billion. Despite its economic value, much of Europe’s PSI is not fully re-used. The EU adopted the PSI Directive in 2003 to overcome barriers that limit the re-use of PSI. The Directive regulates how public sector bodies should make their information available for re-use and deals with key issues like transparency of what is available and under which conditions, fair competition and non-discrimination between all potential re-users. For publishers it is, inter alia, essential that the Directive recognise that IP rights from thirds parties are not affected by it and ensure that the public sector will not compete unfairly with private offers.
The Commission concluded a review of the Directive in 2009, assessing its impact and application; it published a Communication on Re-use of Public Sector Information - Review of Directive 2003/98/EC, accompanied by a Staff working document.
In December 2011, the Commission proposed its Open Data Strategy, presented in a Commission Communication to the European Parliament and to the Council. The Communication was accompanied by a proposal for modifying the Directive on the re-use of public sector information (the main element of the regulatory framework for re-use) and a revised Commission decision on the re-use of the Commission’s information. The revised legislative framework will change the scope of application as it will include “libraries, archives, museums and university libraries”, whilst maintaining its derogation for third party intellectual property right. The general principle will be that all public information that is not explicitly covered by one of the exceptions is re-usable for commercial and non-commercial purposes. The amount that can be charged for PSI cannot be more than the marginal costs of dissemination (in certain case full costs of producing and disseminating remains possible).