Oman ranked at 66 on the Global Open Data Index 2015 making it the highest ranking Arab country on the index. The Global Open Data Index is a crowdsourced survey of the performance of governments in the area of open data. It looks at the extent to which governments release their data in a technically and legally open format that permits the public to copy and re-use this data for both societal and business objectives.
Oman has been actively working in the past few years on the ‘government digital transformation’ project, which is spearheaded by the ITA, but the biggest development in the area of open data did not come from the ITA, it came from NCSI. The NCSI launched earlier this year a fully fledged open data portal in which data is published in a technically and legally open manner. This portal publishes statistics relating to Oman in a variety of areas under machine-readable formats that users are permitted to copy and re-purpose.
It is also great to see that the Omani legislation dataset, which is published by MOLA, ranks 16 globally. This score is probably due to the legal requirements for legislation to be published in the official gazette within a maximum of two weeks and the exemption of legislation from the protection of copyright under Omani law (making it legally open). MOLA is very quick in updating the legislation on its website and announces its weekly updates on both Twitter and Facebook. The benefits of the availability of the legislation dataset are not hypothetical: I personally participate in a project that takes advantage of the fact that legislation is an open dataset in Oman.
Oman is definitely moving in the right direction when it comes to open data, but it has the potential of moving even higher up on the index by making small tweaks to its existing websites. For example, the Company Register at MOCI has digital records of all the information needed for the data index, but currently displays a limited amount of data on its search engine results. Allowing users to view small additional details, such as the address and list of shareholders, could make Oman satisfy the requirement for this dataset. This change will not require any serious financial investment because the data is already available to MOCI in a digital format in their system, all they need to do is display it on the search results.
The Omani government should take note of the Global Open Data Index to evaluate its performance and figure out new ways to make its data more open and consequently more easily accessible to the public. The Global Open Data Index is an easy indicator to understand and can give ideas for practical improvements that could actually be implemented.
Like all copyright laws around the world, the Omani copyright law is meant to draw a balance between the ability of the authors to make a living out of their craft on the one hand and the right of members of society have a fair and reasonable opportunity to access and use cultural works.
Continue reading DRM and the Balance of Copyright Law in Oman
A post I’ve written for GlobalVoices in collaboration with Sadeek Hasna. Check it out here.
The Arab Treaty on Combating Cybercrime [الاتفاقية العربية لمكافحة جرائم تقنية المعلومات] was ratified by Oman earlier this month. This treaty is an Arab League international agreement that was adopted in December 2010 and entered into force in February 2014. It appears that the ratified members of this treaty at the moment are Jordan, UAE, Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.
The main objectives of the treaty are to create an obligation on its members to implement in their national legislation provisions that criminalise a set of online offenses as well as put procedural rules in place to facilitate the prosecution of cybercrimes and the collection of digital evidence. The treaty also has a section for facilitating the cooperation between its members in dealing with transnational cybercrimes. Continue reading Arab Treaty on Combating Cybercrime
Current Copyright Law:
- Law No. 154/AN/06 of July 23, 2006, on the Protection of Copyright and Neighboring Rights [Loi n°154/AN/06 du 23 juillet 2006 relative à la protection du droit d’auteur et du droit voisin]: French Text, English Text*
Previous Copyright Law:
- Law No. 114/AN/96/3e L on the Protection of Copyright [Loi n°114/AN/96/3e L relatif à la protection du droit d’auteur]: French Text, English Text*
- Order of February 7, 1963, relating to Law 57-298 of March 11, 1957, on Literary and Artistic Property [loi 57-298 du 11 mars 1957 sur la djibouti propriété littéraire et artistique]: Text Not Available.
*Translation by WIPO.
Photo credits: “Aube dorée” by Olivier ROUX – CC BY-NC 2.0
Current Copyright Law:
- Literary and Artistic Property Law of 1957: French Text.*
*Note: This law was passed during the French colonization of Comoros, and it is not clear if this law is in force.
Photo credits: “Indian Ocean Sunset” by David Stanley – CC BY 2.0
Like the majority of countries around the world, Oman does not have a concept of “fair use” in its copyright law. The default position under copyright law is that any use of a copyrighted work requires the prior permission of the author, even if that use is private, non-commercial, or does not affect the interests of the author. To ensure that the rights of the author do not restrict the ability of society to enjoy culture and exercise certain fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, copyright law permits the public to use copyrighted works in certain circumstances without the need to acquire the permission of the author.
Continue reading Three Exceptions I Wish Omani Copyright Law Had
Current Copyright Law:
- Law No. 33 of 2009 Concerning the Amendment of Law No. 36 of 1994 Concerning Literary and Artistic Property [قانون عدد ٣٣ لسنة ٢٠٠٩ مؤرخ في ٢٣ جوان ٢٠٠٩ يتعلق بتنقيح وإتمام القانون عدد ٣٦ لسنة ١٩٩٤ المؤرخ في ٢٤ فيفري ١٩٩٤ المتعلق بالملكية الفكرية والفنية]: Arabic Text.
- Law No. 36 of 1994 Concerning Literary and Artistic Property [قانون عدد ٣٦ لسنة ١٩٩٤ مؤرخ في ٢٤ فيفري ١٩٩٤ يتعلق بالملكية الأدبية والفنية]: Arabic Text.
Previous Copyright Laws:
- Law No. 3 of 1967 Concerning the Amendment of Law No. 12 of 1966 Concerning Literary and Artistic Property [قانون عدد ٣ لسنة ١٩٦٧ مؤرخ في ٤ جانفي ١٩٦٧ يتعلق بتنقيح القانون عدد ١٢ لسنة ١٩٦٦ المؤرخ في ١٤ فيفري ١٩٦٦ المتعلق بالملكية الأدبية والفنية]: Arabic Text.
- Law No. 12 of 1966 Concerning Literary and Artistic Property [قانون عدد ١٢ لسنة ١٩٦٦ المؤرخ في ١٤ فيفري ١٩٦٦ يتعلق بالملكية الأدبية والفنية]: Arabic Text.
Note: Tunisia inherited from France the Tunisian Artistic and Literary Property Law of 1889 during its time as a French colony.
Open Data can provide great opportunities to Oman. The government has massive amounts of data about all aspects of life in the country that remain stored without ever getting used or, at best, remain constantly under-utilised.
As part of its normal way of conducting business, the government collects and creates a lot of information. This information includes basic details about the number of accidents that happen on the road, what time of the day they happened, and their exact location; the number of schools in the country, the number and age of students attending these schools; the number of mosques in each city; the locations of hospitals, forecast details, and so many other details about everything in the country. Continue reading Oman Needs Open Data