UK Gov't Frees Up Gov't Works Under 'Open' License

from the good-to-see dept

While about the only good change to copyright law we've seen in the past century or so was the US's decision to make all federally created documents go straight into the public domain, rather than be covered by copyright, many other governments have not been nearly so enlightened. It's common -- especially in countries formerly in the British empire -- to have the concept of "crown copyright," covering government documents. Of course, this makes very little sense, since the purpose of copyright is supposed to be to offer incentives for the creation of the content, and most of the content governments produce will have other, external, incentives.

So it's nice to see (via Glyn Moody) that the UK government has taken a big step forward in declaring that government information should be released under an "open" license. In this case, it's set up the UK Open Government Licence (OGL), which isn't quite the same as the public domain, but it does seem pretty open. They're pretty clear when it comes to government data:
It is UK Government policy to support the re-use of its information by making it available for re-use under simple licensing terms. As part of this policy most public sector information should be made available for re-use at the marginal cost of production. In effect, this means at zero cost for the re-user, especially where the information is published online. This maximises the social and economic value of the information. The Open Government Licence should be the default licence adopted where information is made available for re-use free of charge.
It's nice to see them recognize that free and open data maximizes both social and economic value for the information. That's been shown over and over again -- particularly when it comes to government data (pdf) that freeing it up leads to greater economic value across the board. Hopefully other governments will start to move away from economically devaluing positions, such as by focusing on concepts like "crown copyright."
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Filed Under: copyright, crown copyright, open license, public domain, uk


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  1. identicon
    Fentex, 22 Oct 2010 @ 8:59pm

    Re: Re:

    The wording in the US constitution reflects political and legal arguments that were current in the UK at the time. Therefore it is fair to say that UK is based on the same principles as US law

    I don't follow that logic, it would seem to imply that no U.S law differs from British when clearly much does.

    Especially those elements in the U.S Constitution which explicitly (unlike much of Britsh implicit constitution) express a rationale.


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