“What was the decision process to make the parcel data publicly available?

B. Bartlett: It was a confluence of several factors. A key one was that our staff was responding to increasing numbers of FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests for the data; also we’ve had a push at the state level for policies on more open data in New York as a whole.

Some background on us here in New York City: We had digitized all the tax parcels, copyrighted the data, and sold them as a product to generate revenue for many years. The revenue generated was expected to offset the costs of producing and developing the digital data.

We worked closely with the City’s Department of Finance to populate the taxlots with the assessment and tax data. When we sold the data, we charged licensing fees and required end users to sign license agreements and in some cases sub-license agreements if they were going to distribute it to any third party or additional users.”

Barbara Bartlett, New York City Department of City Planning’s Program Manager, on why PLUTO was liberated. (PDF)