GIS and Copyright Issues: Orange County, California

In late January 2011, a California court ruled that an Orange County GIS basemap was considered software rather than electronic records, exempting it from public disclosure. The court case, Sierra Club v. Superior Court, focuses on the “public’s right to access electronic files created and stored by local governments.”  The lawsuit argues that electronic files should be open to the public regardless of what storage format is used. However, Orange County successfully argued that “information stored in GIS format is exempt from disclosure under the ‘software exemption’ of the California Public Records Act (CPRA).”

The Sierra Club has appealed the court’s decision.

For more information, please see the article written by Mark Rumold, EFF Urges California Court to Grant Public Access to Electronic Mapping Data (

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