New Open Government License

Today the UK Government has launched a new, more open licence under which people can use government information and data. The new Open Government Licence allows anyone - businesses, individuals, charities and community groups - to re-use public sector information without having to pay or get permission. It is a simple way for everyone to benefit from the increasing amount of government information published as part of the Prime Minister's Transparency agenda.When Tim Berners-Lee and I first became involved in the effort to open up government data, we identitfied permissive and open licenses as a key requirement.

Based on the world-leading Creative Commons family of licences, the new licence works in parallel with them and mirrors their Attribution Licence and the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence, whilst covering a broad range of information, including Crown Copyright, databases and source codes, and applying to the whole of the UK. It is also available in a machine-readable form so that people's tools can automatically know that it is open to use.

It replaces the existing Click-Use Licence for central government ("Crown") works, but crucially anyone in the wider public sector can use it, whether they are local authorities, police forces, universities, or hospitals. The Local Data Panel which I chair is recommending that all local authorities use the Open Government Licence when publishing their data to make themselves more accountable and open to taxpayers. In the past, licence variations were a significant barrier to data publication.

It's great to see a simple and straightforward licence so that people and organisations can re-use government data in any way they want. This is an important step forward in opening up government and making it more transparent. My congratulations to Francis Maude and Tom McNally and their teams at the Cabinet Office and The National Archives.


  1. Comment by Anonymous posted on

    It looks very good, and sensible, except that the clause on FOI looks to be mis-worded? It seems to be saying that it doesn't cover information that hasn't been released under FoI, which implies it only covers info that has been released under FoI. It could do with a bit more clarity: I'm presuming it means that it doesn't cover FoI releases, but it could mean that it doesn't cover information that was refused under FoI.

    I'll certainly push for adoption locally if this issue can be clarified.

    Martin Burroughs

    Oldham Partnership

    • Replies to Anonymous>

      Comment by Anonymous posted on

      Hi Martin,

      The FoI clause is designed to exempt all information that would not be disclosable under FoI - so essentially a catch all for info with commercial confidentiality, security implications, law enforcements and investigations etc etc. Information already published is also an exemption under FoI, so this clause needs to address the fact that we're not exempting published information from the scope of the licence as everything else under the FoI exemptions are - just the information that would not be made available justifiably to the public by or with the consent of the information provider.

      The clause does not say that the licence doesn't cover anything that has not been released under FoI, rather it is using legitimate access to public sector information as a precursor to allowing use and re-use under the licence.  

      I hope that helps!

      Many thanks,

      Beth Brook

      The National Archives

  2. Comment by Dean posted on

    The OGL model is a very sensible development for public data, so I was surprised to see that one of the healvily trailed data sources on the home page (geological data from BGS) specifically excludes commercial re-use. 


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person