"The California Supreme Court is currently considering whether GIS databases maintained by government agencies should be readily available to the public under the California Public Records Act," writes attorney Joanna Malaczynski. "For GIS users such as myself, the answer is a resounding yes; however, the issue is more complicated for Orange County and the lower courts who have reviewed the case."
"Orange County [which charges $357,000 for its parcel map data of 600,000 parcels] may see its GIS database as something unique, which it has developed and for which it expects a commercial return. Most seasoned GIS users know, however, that what Orange County has compiled is merely data and information into a format that is useable in a relatively new technology: GIS software."
Thanks to Chris Steins