- The Framework
- Open Government Licence
- What the Open Government Licence covers
- Guidance and FAQs
3 Legal context
3.1 Intellectual property
Intellectual property rights protect certain categories of information and works that are the result of human intellectual creativity. Where Government is the creator of information, it will be the owner of the rights in the information. The main types of intellectual property rights are copyright and related rights, trademarks, designs and patents. (Further information on intellectual property rights in general can be found on the Intellectual Property Office website).
This UK Government Licensing Framework applies primarily to information protected by copyright and database right. Technological inventions protected by patents are not covered by this policy. Details on policy for re-use of government logos or crests, whether protected by trademarks or copyright, are set out in Section 4.
3.2 Copyright and database right
- literary (or written) works, including reports, correspondence, statistics, instruction manuals, computer programs, source code and software, newspaper articles and some types of database;
- artistic works, including paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps and logos;
- dramatic works, including dance or mime;
- musical works;
- layouts or typographical arrangements used to publish a work, for a book for instance;
- recordings of a work, including sound and film;li>broadcasts of a work.
It restricts the extent to which anyone may reproduce, issue to the public, use or adapt the works, in whole or in substantial part, without permission from the copyright owner.
Database right is set out in legislation (The Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997) as a form of property right. A database, that is a collection of data or other material that is arranged in such a way so that the items are individually accessible, may be protected by copyright as a literary work and/or database right. This protection can apply to both paper and electronic databases.
Local government authorities and other public sector bodies will own the copyright and database right in the information they produce. In the case of central government and its agencies, where the agency is a Crown body, most of the information produced will be subject to Crown copyright.
3.3 Crown copyright and Crown database right
Copyright and database right works produced by employees of the Crown in the course of their duties are subject to Crown copyright and Crown database right. Therefore, most information produced by government departments, ministers and civil servants is protected either by Crown copyright or Crown database right.
The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, in her role as Queen's Printer, has been appointed by Her Majesty The Queen by Letters Patent to manage all copyrights and database rights owned by the Crown on Her Majesty's behalf. The Controller is an official in The National Archives.
3.4 Freedom of Information Acts and Environmental Information Regulations
All unpublished information which is not accessible under the Freedom of Information Acts or the Environmental Information Regulations, such as personal data or confidential information, will be exempt from the UKGLF and the Open Government Licence.
Access to most public sector information is provided by the Freedom of Information Acts and by the Environmental Information Regulations. Provision of information under this access legislation does not mean that the recipient has an automatic right to re-use it, for example to publish it, or adapt it in some way. Most information supplied in response to an access request will be protected by copyright and permission to re-use it will be required. Statutory provisions for access and re-use complement each other but are separate and distinct.
3.5 The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005
The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 (the PSI Regulations) set out a number of principles for public sector bodies when making public sector information available for re-use, and provide a complaints process for re-users.
Further information, including a best practice guide, The Re-use of Public Sector Information: A Guide to the Regulations and Best Practice, and pages dedicated to public sector information policy and practice can be found on our Public sector information directives and regulations pages of our website.