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Message 00277: Fwd: [open-gov] Re: footnote to Wonderlich quoting Jacobs

in re thomas lord, troll alert.  :)

but, what specifically are you folks arguing about? is this about patent binders? patent files in xml instead of text? images of the patents all the way back?

my impression was that the basic databases were pretty well taken care of these days, albeit the binders aren't online and a few other nice- to-haves. do you know about freepatentsonline? he does a really nice job. there are a few others out there as well.

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Aaron Swartz" <me@aaronsw.com>
Date: September 19, 2008 3:58:44 PM PDT
To: open-government@googlegroups.com
Subject: [open-gov] Re: footnote to Wonderlich quoting Jacobs
Reply-To: open-government@googlegroups.com

There is a difference between "creating a list of patents" and
making an easily consumed product.

I'm not sure it's as expensive as you seem to imply.

Also, FOIA doesn't work like you think it does, I gather.
You can be charged a fee for an answer to a FOIA request.

I've been filing a lot of FOIA requests lately. FOIA stipulates that
agencies can't charge more than the cost of search and reproduction
(with one unfortunate exception), which I'm happy to pay (it's rarely
more than $20). PTO is charging far, far more than that.

I think your notion that opening up data costs money and there's a
finite amount of money is simply mistaken.

Who does the XML coding?  Who runs the servers?  Who gets 100
little departments to change their 20-year-old procedures?
It costs a lot of money!

It doesn't need to be in XML as far as I'm concerned; any database
dump would be fine. The government doesn't seem to have any problem
running servers, but if they did, p.r.o seems happy to host their
stuff for free. Departments already spend enormous amounts of
resources on FOIA teams and fighting FOIA backlogs and things like
that, and they haven't gone bankrupt yet.

But even if it was, the
government could use auction-style funding mechanisms to raise the
money once and then share it with all; this would be much more
economically efficient.

Please say more.  What kind of auction?  Details?

If your economic idea of auctions turns out to be good then
*this* group (this list) could even take the initiative in discovering
what legal obstacles there are to it and what needs to happen
(e.g., congressional mandate?  or just a directorial decision?
and who needs to be lobbied? etc.)

I think just strengthening FOIA would be preferable.

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