The center announced the release of the license Tuesday. It allows public groups and individuals to copy, adapt, and redistribute Media Tracker for free. The database contains more than 5 million records related to media ownership, lobbying activities, and communications sources. It is part of the center's Well Connected project on media and telecommunications. Users can search the database for information about issues like broadband penetration by ZIP code, city, or state.
"Increasingly, the citizenry and Washington policy-makers alike turn to the Media Tracker for key data about the digital sectors of our society and economy," Drew Clark, senior fellow and Well Connected project manager, said in a statement. "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."
The Social Science Research Council of New York State helped the center create the license, which backers hope will serve as a model for other social science databases, especially those related to telecommunications, media, and technology.
"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," Harold Feld, senior VP of the Media Access Project, said in a statement. "The Media Tracker license provides a way for companies or researchers to make data accessible without losing their commercial value."
The Media Tracker policy license allows researchers to study the media ownership, localism, and political influence issues before the Federal Communications Commission, Congress, and the courts, Philip Napoli, director of the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center and associate professor at the Graduate School of Business at Fordham University, said in a statement.