Government 2.0 update – amended IP principles released
Last Friday, in response to both the Government 2.0 Taskforce recommendations and the Review of the Australian Government’s Use of Information and Communication Technology, the Attorney-General’s Department has released the amended Statement of Intellectual Property Principles for Australian Government Agencies.
This is a formal endorsement of the taskforce recommendation that agencies should license their Public Sector Information (PSI) under Creative Commons BY license as the default license type and only adopt more restrictive licenses after a process of ‘due diligence and on a case-by-case basis’.
It also changes the default position of Government ICT contracts so that the suppliers will own the IP of any software they develop, while still ensuring the Government holds a license to use that IP in government activities. There are some exceptions to this default position, which are explained in more detail on the site.
The new policy requires FMA Act agencies to have a starting contractual position of Intellectual Property (IP) ownership in favour of the supplier for ICT software development contracts. This is an important step for a number of reasons. IP is for many organisations, its most valuable asset, particularly those in the ICT sector. Ownership of IP will provide software developers with new opportunities to commercialise software, foster innovation, and develop export sales. In addition, if suppliers are able to grow revenue through leveraging the IP, there is a potential for reduced costs to agencies.
The amended IP Principles also provide agencies with sufficient flexibility to maintain and re-use software. Where the IP ownership is granted to the supplier, the supplier must in return grant the Commonwealth with a perpetual, irrevocable, world-wide (if required), royalty free, fully paid up licence to all rights normally accompanying IP ownership (including a right to sub-license but excluding a right of commercial exploitation) in the developed IP for government activities. The new principle also includes a list of exceptions where it is in the public interest for the Commonwealth to own the IP in the software.
I’m pleased to note that AGIMO has been involved in the development of this policy. Our expertise and strategic role in whole-of-government ICT procurement, and coordination of ICT Review projects, has afforded us valuable input to these matters. The Attorney General’s Department, with assistance from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, has done an excellent piece of work that will assist Government procurement and boost industry development, particularly for small and medium enterprises.
While engaging with the public online is a crucial part of Government 2.0, it is also important to encourage online collaboration between public servants. To that end, one of the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s recommendations was to establish an online forum where public servants can discuss their Gov 2.0 projects and the lessons they’ve learned from them.
AGIMO has created a Government 2.0 govdex community for this very purpose, with membership open to Australian public servants from all levels of Government. The community is intended as a place where public servants can ask questions, share experiences and collaborate with colleagues, with guidance set by the Australian Public Service Commission.
I encourage public servants from any level of government in Australia to send an email to email@example.com to arrange an invitation to the Government 2.0 govdex community, and to tell colleagues about the community. Hopefully the community will prove to be a useful resource for sharing experiences and lessons learnt as public servants work towards implementing Government 2.0.
Our work on implementation of the broader Gov 2.0 workplan progresses. While the October Gov 2.0 Steering Committee meeting was cancelled, matters are being considered out-of-session. Our next meeting is scheduled for November.