On 27 April 2017 the Montenegrin Parliament passed the government's proposal to amend the Law on Free Access to Information. Namely, regarding EU accession negotiation (chapter 10- Information society and media), Montenegro has undertaken to implement, among other things, the rules relating to the re-use of public sector information. Standards in this respect are contained in two European Union Directives. Within these, a general framework for the conditions governing the re-use of public sector documents is shaped in order to ensure fair, proportionate and non-discriminatory conditions for the re-use of information. This type of harmonisation of Montenegrin law is significant taking into account the growing importance of digital content, and information for both commercial and non-commercial use, as well as to what extent the public sector has access to the information.
The amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information came into force on 17 May 2017.
Most important changes to the Law on Free Access to Information
The following changes to the Montenegrin Law on Free Access to Information were enacted:
- legally allowed re-use of public information, and rights for the user on such re-use have been introduced. According to the definitions introduced, re-use of information is the use of information held by public authorities for commercial, or non-commercial purposes, other than the initial purpose for which the information was produced. Any national, foreign, individual or legal person has the right to the re-use of the public information, which information shall be available in free format and without any limitation;
- the establishment of an open-source portal as an e-government portal subsystem where authorities will proactively publish information to which access, under the free access to information regime, is allowed. This data will be used for free access and for re-use; and
- within the procedures set out for the re-use of public sector information, the applicant is required to indicate whether the information will be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes.
Given that public sector information is important primary material for digital content products and services, there was a strong need for implementing the rules which would allow interested users to dispose with such public information and use it for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Therefore, the legislative amendments were necessary in order to facilitate introduction of clear mechanisms for re-use of public information. How, this will work in practice is yet to be seen.