I’ve looked a bit closer at the Finnish copyright laws and come to the conclusion that I might have been a bit overenthusiastic publishing the raw data from the vaalikone of Yle. I scraped and published this data thinking it would merely be a mashup of public data and therefore a legal thing to do. However, I did not consider the 49 § of the copyright law which states that the producer of a catalogue or database including a “great amount of information” owns the exclusive right to distribute the catalogue (or an “essential” part of it). I have not run this by any legal expert, but my own conclusion is that:
- Gathering the data should not be a problem. In other words, anyone can download my Ruby script (or this slightly more professional version by Anon) and scrape the data to ones own computer.
- Publishing this data without the permission of Yle might be a legal problem. Or could one argue that the vaalikone data is actually not a catalogue or database, but rather a large number of “quotes” from candidates? After all the answers given by the candidates are not visually published as databases.
- Publishing a mashup (a visualization for example) should not be a problem as it does not mean that the user gets a hold of the raw data.
I have contacted Yle to ask for their permission to publish the data again. Their response was that they will consider it within a couple of weeks.
If anyone holds any expertise in these questions I would love to hear your input.