11 Licensing software and source code

11.1 Software and licensing

The public sector produces software or source code as well as types of content such as documents and data. Often, new software is built on elements taken from existing software. Software is protected by copyright, and this makes licensing considerations important.

11.2 Open source

Many developers release their work under open source licences. Open source licences allow software to be re-used freely, and free of charge. This provides a growing pool of software components from which other software developers may draw. Such software developers also benefit in other ways, for example, from peer review of their work, and access to communities of potential collaborators.

11.3 Policy on the licensing of software and source code

Government departments, who now have delegated authority from the Controller to license their software and source code using open source licences, and other public sector bodies that are involved in developing their own software and source code are encouraged to make their software and source code available as openly as possible. This requires a flexible approach to licensing. Developers across the public sector may choose to release their software and source code under the Open Government Licence. Alternatively, the Open Source Initiative maintains a list of approved open source licences covering software and source code that developers in the public sector can use.