Crown Copyright – Who benefits?

Michael Geist has a new post about crown copyright, including all the good arguments that it should be killed. But this gem really takes the cake:

Beyond the policy reasons for abandoning crown copyright, internal government documents reveal other concerns. Financially, the federal crown copyright system costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Documents from Public Works and Government Services Canada, which administers the crown copyright system, reveal that in the 2006-7 fiscal year, crown copyright licensing generated less than $7,000 in revenue, yet the system cost over $200,000 to administer.

Not only does crown copyright mean citizens face unnecessary restrictions on use of government data and documents they paid for with their taxes, it ALSO means that they have to pay EXTRA to not have free access to the data & documents. (Though note, both 7k and 200k are drops in the bucket of federal budgets). But still, if it’s a money suck as well as everything else, what’s the point of it? Here’s one answer:

For example, an educational institution request to reproduce a photo of a Snowbird airplane was denied on the grounds that the photo was to be used for an article raising questions about the safety of the program. Similarly, a request to reproduce a screen capture of the NEXUS cross-border program with the U.S. was declined since it was to be used in an article that would not portray the program in a favourable light. Although it seems unlikely that crown copyright authorization was needed to use these images, the government’s decision to deny permission smacks of censorship and misuse of Canadian copyright law.

Does anyone have any compelling arguments in favour of crown copyright?

[thanks Sara!]