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Public Sector Information

Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015

The EU Directive on the Re-use of Public Sector Information, adopted by the European Union in June 2013, was implemented and transposed into UK law as the Re-use of Public Sector Regulations 2015. The 2015
Regulations are in force from 18 July 2015.

The Public Sector Information Regulations cover any information a public sector body:

  • produces, holds or disseminates within its public task, and
  • holds the copyright for.

Under the regulations, public sector bodies should make their information available for re-use under an open licence at marginal cost. Marginal cost in most cases will be nil. The legislation specifies exceptions to the marginal cost default, for example trading funds. In such cases, public sector bodies may charge re-users to cover the costs of collection, production, reproduction and dissemination of information, together with a reasonable return on their investment.

Public sector information

Any information (content) whatever its medium (form) – including print, digital or
electronic, and sound recordings – produced, held or disseminated by a public sector body is
considered public sector information. This includes an enormous range: corporate
information such as reports and financial data, codes of practices, public records, statistics,
still and moving images, press releases, publication schemes, and so on.

If a public sector body holds the copyright for information it produces, holds or
disseminates within its public task, then that information is in scope of the 2015

Information for which a public sector body does not hold the copyright is excluded
from the 2015 Regulations. Information produced, held or disseminated outside a public sector body’s public task is excluded from the 2015 Regulations.

The 2015 Regulations have been developed from the Amending Directive which updated the
2005 Regulations on re-use.

Concept of Re-use

Re-use means the use of public sector information for a purpose other than the initial
purpose for which it was produced, held, collected or disseminated.

For re-users, the 2015 Regulations should make re-use easier. In general, information that is
accessible, either because it has been published or because it has been released under access
legislation, should be available for re-use under a standard or non-restrictive licence.
For most re-use, charges will be at marginal cost. In some cases this will be nil.

All public sector bodies should make clear when granting access to information if there are
any restrictions on re-use. Public sector body information is presumed to be re-usable once access is obtained, unless the information is otherwise restricted or excluded.

Common examples of restrictions and exclusions include third-party copyright exclusions
and protection of personal data. Cultural sector bodies are permitted to decline requests for
re-use (unless the information has already been made available for re-use, including by

Information which is re-usable while it is in the custody of a public sector body such as a
local authority should remain re-usable under the 2015 Regulations, regardless of any
transfer to an archive or other public sector body. If information is not under an open licence, you must make a request for re-use to the public sector body that holds the information.

To facilitate re-use, public sector bodies must:

  • Release information in existing format, preferably electronically.
  • Use a standard licence that is as non-restrictive as possible.
  • Permit re-use of information within its public task (unless restricted or excluded).
  • Consider allowing re-use of information made available under an FOI request.
  • Cultural sector bodies should consider permitting re-use of information within public task

Public sector bodies

For public sector bodies that already make their information available for re-use under an
open licence such as the Open Government Licence, the 2015 Regulations will largely mean
business as usual.

Accessible information within public task which is produced, held or disseminated by a
public sector body must be made available for re-use (unless it is restricted or excluded).
Public sector bodies need to be clear what their public task is, because this determines what
information falls within scope of the 2015 Regulations.

The default is for public sector bodies to set charges at marginal cost.

Public sector bodies, such as many information traders, that are ‘required to generate
revenue to cover a substantial part of their costs relating to the performance of their public
task’ will be able to charge for the cost of collection, production, reproduction and
dissemination of public sector information, together with a reasonable return on

Public sector bodies will also need to produce information asset lists so re-users know what
is available for re-use. The 2015 Regulations continue to give public sector bodies a means to express their transparency, fairness, and non-discrimination.

Other UK legislation

Freedom of Information Act

In 2012, the government amended the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) to create a
‘right to data’ comprising new duties for certain public authorities to provide datasets of
factual management information in a re-usable form and with a licence permitting re-use,
in response to requests, and to continue to publish them. These provisions were inserted
into sections 11A, 11B and 19 of FOIA by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
The new rights to re-use under the 2015 Regulations have been consolidated with the FOIA
provisions where a dataset is within the scope of the Regulations. For datasets or public
authorities out of scope of the 2015 Regulations, there is no change. The access and means
of communication requirements of FOIA, including sections 1, 11, 11A and 19, remain the

The 2015 Regulations amend sections 11A and 19 of FOIA regarding release of datasets or
portions of datasets for re-use. These changes mean that where a dataset is covered by the
2015 Regulations, then it is the 2015 Regulations and not FOIA which will govern the re-use
of such dataset information and their entry on a publication scheme. This is an important
change for the large number of public authorities which are also public sector bodies. Re-use
of their datasets that are relevant copyright works will be dealt with under the 2015
Regulations, not FOIA.

Data Protection Act

The 2015 Regulations do not reduce the protections of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).
They do not apply to any personal data that is not available under access legislation, nor to
personal data that may be accessible but cannot be re-used due to data protection.
Personal data may be accessible (for example, in a public register or by a request under
access legislation) but that does not automatically make it re-usable. Any subsequent use or
re-use of any personal data must be lawful under the DPA, which controls how personal
information is used.

The public sector body is responsible for complying with the DPA when making information
available for re-use. After permission to re-use has been given, you are responsible for
complying with the DPA.

Public Records Act

This Uk legal encyclopedia has information on complying with the provisions of the
Public Records Act.

Law is our Passion

This entry about Public Sector Information has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0) licence, which permits unrestricted use and reproduction, provided the author or authors of the Public Sector Information entry and the Encyclopedia of Law are in each case credited as the source of the Public Sector Information entry. Please note this CC BY licence applies to some textual content of Public Sector Information, and that some images and other textual or non-textual elements may be covered by special copyright arrangements. For guidance on citing Public Sector Information (giving attribution as required by the CC BY licence), please see below our recommendation of "Cite this Entry".

Cite this entry

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(2017, 05). Public Sector Information lawi.org.uk Retrieved 09, 2021, from https://lawi.org.uk/public-sector-information/

05 2017. 09 2021 <https://lawi.org.uk/public-sector-information/>

"Public Sector Information" lawi.org.uk. lawi.org.uk, 05 2017. Web. 09 2021. <https://lawi.org.uk/public-sector-information/>

"Public Sector Information" lawi.org.uk. 05, 2017. Accesed 09 2021. https://lawi.org.uk/public-sector-information/

International, 'Public Sector Information' (lawi.org.uk 2017) <https://lawi.org.uk/public-sector-information/> accesed 2021 September 24

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Public Sector Information
  • Author: International
  • Description: Public Sector InformationTable of Contents1 Public Sector Information1.1 Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations [...]

This entry was last updated: November 4, 2020

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