Free access to the laws that bind us? (2)

Yesterday Clare Allison, the Enquiry System Project Manager at the SPO, wrote to Statute Law Database trial users that:

We are pleased to announce that the website as it stands will be launched free of charge to the public once piloting has been completed. A commercial strategy will still be developed next year, but will primarily be looking at options that concern the commercial reuse of the data and the development of functionality that will serve the needs of the specialist user.

That seems clear enough, and we must assume that they mean what they say (ie no charging for historical views). So that’s good news.

So far as the commercial strategy is concerned, as I’ve commented before, charging for “commercial reuse of the data” seems fair enough. But is charging for “development of functionality that will serve the needs of the specialist user” going to be used as an artificial way to charge for functionality that should really be there in the first place?

I mentioned in my recent article, two functions that would vastly improve the SLD:

  • hyperlink every reference to another piece of legislation
  • implement URL addressing by citation (ie not dependent on the internal document ID)

Neither of these is a big deal in development terms.