"We must ensure that information regarding all of our governments be available to all who request it through the Freedom of Information Act without having to pay a high premium for that information or being denied the information because government claimed a copyright and refused the FOIL request," Galef said.
Galef's bill addresses the issue that government records, especially ones that are available electronically, have increasing value and may be used commercially for profit. Copyright should not be claimed when an agency is obligated by law to prepare a record, and fair use of copyright material provides for public access to records that may involve the accountability of government and promote the public's understanding of government activities.
Annually, Sunshine Week emphasizes the importance of visibility and public awareness of government, how it is conducted and improving public access to information and public proceedings. The state Assembly has strengthened its commitment to open government this year by passing an eight-bill legislative package.
Other bills included in the Sunshine Week package, all of which Galef supported, are:
- Bill A.4468 that clarifies certain provisions of FOIL and other disclosure laws to make sure people are not wrongfully denied access to public records;
- Bill A.3149 that clarifies the name of a retiree in a public employees' retirement system is subject to disclosure under FOIL;
- Bill A.0114 that expedites the appeals process when a trial court has found in favor of a FOIL request action, thereby insuring timely appellate review and conclusion to the issue;
- Bill A.4436 that requires the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to post on its website, or another state website, information about food safety and consumer protection violations by food businesses;
- Bill A.1163 that requires information on sate boards be published electronically through websites;
- Bill A.5768 that allows the public to submit requests for access to the records of a state agency by use of an online form;
- Bill A. 4788 that requires the Internet broadcast of open meetings of each state authority and local authority.
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