Public information is all information originating from the field of work of the public sector bodies and occurring in the form of a document, a case, a dossier, a register, a record or other documentary material (hereinafter referred to as "the document") drawn up by the body, by the body in cooperation with other body, or acquired from other persons. Natural and legal persons can under certain conditions use this information also for commercial or non commercial reuse.
Access to public information Act states three conditions, necessary to define public information:
- Information must originate from the field of work of the public sector body
- The information must be in the body's possession
- The information must be contained in a certain materialized form
Obviously the information must be related to the body's work. Personal email received by a public employee onto his work e-mail address is not such information. The same must be said for various daily commercial brochures, received by the public body, personal note and address books, phone messages and other similar types of documents.
Public information can be related to any activity in all fields of work of the body, connected with its official proceedings, originating in his public authority.
The term "possession of information" must within the intention of the law be interpreted widely. Possession is means any holding, disposing with, registering, collecting, evidencing, reproducing, producing or altering of information, performed by a public body, for that body, or with that body.
When acquiring information from third parties, due care has to be given to the protection of information copyright. When the body faces the decision to reveal a copyrighted document, such documents may not be copied, though the applicant may still freely consult the information on the spot.
It is also necessary to stress that bodies need not to create or obtain new documents, nor do they need to substitute a document which is no longer in their possession. The body is also exempt from collecting, process or analyzing the requested information. Such a rule, however doesn't apply for modern-day computer databases. In these cases, the bodies are obliged to acquire the information stored in such databases, as the information is already there, freely swimming in the database pool. This act does not constitute a creation of a new document.
In cases when the requested document is already publicly available, the body adheres to the provisions of the law simply by directing the applicant to the present place of publication.