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Center for Public Integrity Releases License for Non-Commercial Use of Its Media Tracker

JULY 3, 2007
10:50 AM

CONTACT: Center for Public Integrity 
Steve Carpinelli (202) 481-1225

Center Releases License for Non-Commercial Use of Its Media Tracker
Media and Telecom Project Provides Researchers Freedom to Use Data

WASHINGTON - JULY 3 -The Center for Public Integrity on Tuesday released a license for the non-commercial use of its Media Tracker , a free online database at the heart of the Center’s “Well Connected” project on media and telecommunications. This new license, featured on the Center’s Website, gives the public and organizations the freedom to copy, adapt and redistribute Media Tracker data at no charge.

 The Media Tracker database contains more than 5 million records of government sources, corporate disclosure documents and original research that allows anyone to identify media ownership, lobbying activities and communications sources by ZIP code, city or state. The Center expects the license, created in partnership with the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in New York, to be a model for other social science databases, particularly in the fields of telecommunications, media and technology.
“Increasingly, the citizenry and Washington policymakers alike turn to the Media Tracker for key data about the digital sectors of our society and economy,” said Drew Clark, senior fellow and “Well Connected” project manager. “This new license will allow bloggers, researchers, advocates and lobbyists to freely make use of these datasets in a way that contributes to more complete information and better public policy.”
“It seems self-evident that public policy should be based upon publicly available data,” said Joe Karaganis, director of the SSRC’s Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Public Sphere, “but this not the case in the current media and communications policy environment. The Media Tracker policy license is the first license to comply with the Data Consortium’s public policy licensing policies.”
Other researchers and advocates endorsed the Media Tracker’s newest feature.
“Because public advocates generally cannot afford commercial data, public advocacy suffers a serious disadvantage against industry — especially when federal agencies rely on proprietary data that public advocates cannot access, and therefore cannot test or rebut,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president of the Media Access Project. “The Media Tracker license provides a way for companies or researchers to make data accessible without losing their commercial value.”
The new license allows researchers to “engage in exactly the kinds of studies that the FCC, Congress and the courts have increasingly been demanding on subjects related to media ownership, localism, and the political influence of media” said Philip Napoli, director of the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center and associate professor at the Graduate School of Business at Fordham University.
“The Center and the SSRC have opened the door for more young scholars to do more serious empirical work,” said Peter DiCola, a graduate student in law and economics at the University of Michigan who has extensively studied consolidation in the radio industry.
In creating the license, the Center and the SSRC’s Data Consortium on Media and Communications Policy utilized the pro bono efforts of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic at American University in Washington, D.C.
Access to the Center’s Media Tracker is free and open to the public. For commercial use of the database, please contact Drew Clark at .
Pending the outcome of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission, the Center plans to publish the names, by ZIP code, of companies that provide local broadband service as a Media Tracker service.
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The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan independent Washington, D.C.-based organization that does investigative reporting and research on significant public issues. Since 1990, the Center has released more than 400 investigative reports and 17 books. It has received the prestigious George Polk Award and more than 22 other national journalism awards and 16 finalist nominations from national organizations, including PEN USA and Investigative Reporters and Editors. In April 2006, the Society of Professional Journalists recognized the Center with a national award for excellence in online public service journalism for the fifth consecutive year. In October 2006, the Center was honored with the Online News Association’s coveted General Excellence Award. In March 2007, the Center was given a special citation for the body of its investigative work from the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.


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