Notes on GIS and the LawPage 1Introduction to GIS and the LawSeveral areas of law affect access to and use of geographic information. Among the most influential include intellectual property (for example, copyright, patent and trade secret), freedom of information (that is, freedom to access the records of government), and the information privacy of individuals. The general information policies of nations are often driven by motives such as encouraging an informed citizenry, promoting economic development, protecting national security, securing personal information privacy, supporting the effective functioning of democratic processes, and protecting intellectual property rights. In most nations, all of these motives are supported to varying degrees through a balance of competing yet complementary laws. Issues crucial to GIS law can be identified as: (1) liability (contract and tort); (2) public access, use, and ownership of data; (3) intellectual property; (4) copyright; (5) privacy; and (6) evidentiary admissibility of GIS products. Many of these topics are interrelated and sometimes mutually reinforcing or contingent. A. LiabilityLaws regarding liability are exceedingly important for organizations that use, sell, or give away geographic information, as well as for purveyors of GIS software. Providers of GIS software, data, and other products must perform their responsibilities competently. The courts have held that if their actions result in mistakes that damage or harm others, such providers should bear some responsibility for these damages. Appropriate communications, contracts, and good business practices help to reduce liability exposure, but the courts remain the avenue of last resort when all else fails. Liability is discussed within the context of tort law. Tortis a French word that means “wrong”. A tort is a private or civil wrong or injury to a person or property that does not arise as the result of a breach of contract. Tort law supports two important policies: -punishing wrongdoers for their conduct and -compensating parties for their injuries. Three traditional classes of tort liability have been identified: (i) negligence, (ii) fraud, and (iii) products liability. 1. Negligence is defined as “conduct that breaches a duty of care for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm”. Any person or organization that provides a good or service has a “duty of care” to the parties who receive the good or service; the provider also must meet a “standard of care” when it provides the good or service. Embedded in these two concepts is the
Notes on GIS and the LawPage 2idea that the care must be consistent with the care that a “reasonable person” would take. Moreover, in order for negligence to exist, the damage caused by such negligence must have been foreseeable.
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- prof. Maximillan tumbo