Recently I was looking for data for a county. The county GIS staff shared some data with me with a nominal fee, provided that I send in a signed copy of their GIS Disclaimer Form. I also found a website that wanted $250 for the parcel data. I do not have the data from the county yet so I can't compare if the data are the same.

Is it reasonable to assume that the county has given permission to this commercial entity to "secondarily disseminate" that data?

Please let me know if this is the appropriate place for this question. I know this site prefers questions that can be answered, not discussed. But I'm really curious about management of data rights because from what I've seen, policies veer all over the place.

  • I think you could make the case that this question falls within the guidelines of this site. Interesting question. – Radar Jan 13 '14 at 22:57
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    It depends on the state and the individual county. It's a case by case basis. For example, Utah has a state agency called the AGRC that is a repository of GIS data and it provides it for free to the public. Each county in the state is responsible to send the AGRC up-to-date data periodically that they can add to the geodatabase. – Baltok Jan 13 '14 at 23:38
  • Quite a few counties I've looked at uses TerraScan from Thomson Reuters. In order to get data, I would have to pay Thomson Reuters. I understand cost is a big issue for counties with small population and infrastructure but I'm concerned that commercial entities are data gatekeepers. Here is the RCW 42.56.070 (apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=42.56.070) if anyone fancies a relaxing read. – user22551 Jan 14 '14 at 0:10

The terms for data access depend on your state. I'm in the process right now of getting my county assessor records. In New Mexico, there is a state law that requires all public records, with some exceptions relating to privacy concerns, to be available to the public. Furthermore, the cost to a requester cannot exceed reasonable copying charges. Specifically, they cannot include data preparation or formatting charges. Of course, not every agency complies without prodding, but that's the law here. Because these records are public information, I believe (but have not verified) that there are no restrictions on redistribution. When I looked for my county records, I found one site offering them for a little over $600. The assessor's office wants $125 for a CD (which is no doubt in violation of state law), but will let me come to the assessor's office and copy the CD to my laptop for free. I plan to put the data on geocommons.com, once I've verified with trustworthy sources that this complies with state law.

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