It is very difficult to see how the public good is being served by government
agencies' insisting on intellectual property rights here. At least it doesn't seem the U.S. government agency is the real culprit. The real rat smells like the UK Hydrographic Office (and maybe SHOM?)
The public good is clearly served by free dissemination of this cartographic material. The work to compile it was largely done long ago at the expense of the public. If you drill right down to heart of the issue, this is a case of one or two government agencies trying to pad their budgets by placing the public's safety
at risk. Small boat owners are going to sea with incomplete chart coverage because they can't afford the bloody charts. That's a clear safety
hazard, not just to the boaters, but also to the other government employees who have to go out and rescue
them when they get in trouble.
It wouldn't cost the government agencies in question anything, except a little bit of foregone revenue, to let us continue what we've been working on. Most of the government agencies' revenue from chart sales surely comes from commercial shipping
. And the commercial
guys aren't going to be using our charts. Our charts would not meet their legal
carriage requirements. So the potential foregone revenue to the government agencies would appear to be minimal. This is a nutty decision on the part of the agencies who are pushing it, and I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't come as a result of political pressure from the few private companies who profit from the sale
of these charts.
If I felt the U.S. agency (the NGA) was the culprit here, I'd write to my congressman. But that may be a job for some of our European brethren, in this particular case.
I hope this turns out better in the near future. At the very least, I hope NGA will let us distribute the .KAPS for the regions they are still displaying online.