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1 Introduction to the UK Government Licensing Framework

The UK Government Licensing Framework (UKGLF) provides a policy and legal overview of the arrangements for licensing the use and re-use of public sector information both in central government and the wider public sector. It sets out best practice and standardises licensing principles.

The UKGLF sets out the Government's guiding principles for licensing the use of public sector information. These are:

  • simplicity of expression - the terms should be expressed in such a way that everyone can understand them
  • non-exclusivity - so that everybody can use and re-use the information 
  • fairness of terms
  • non-discrimination - terms are extended fairly to all for similar uses
  • the need for acknowledgment and attribution
  • the need for transparency by publishing standard licence terms

The UKGLF provides a coherent standard approach to licensing through a portfolio of licensing solutions developed to cover the following situations:

  • free use and re-use for all purposes, both commercial and non-commercial - the Open Government Licence
  • free use and re-use for non-commercial purposes only - the Non-Commercial Government Licence
  • where charges are made for the re-use of information, particularly in the context of s102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which amends s11 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Charged Licence

In addition, the UKGLF provides guidance for public sector bodies as to the terms and conditions which should be included in a licence where charges are applicable. It also highlights some of the issues that public sector bodies need to take into account in such situations. This guidance is not intended as a substitute for independent advice and public sector bodies should seek their own legal advice before drafting a licence for situations where charges are applicable.

The UKGLF also identifies licensing solutions that can be adopted for licensing the use and re-use of software and source code.

1.1 Who should read this?

The UKGLF has been developed in order to meet the needs and interests of:

  • the public, including community groups and social organisations
  • the information re-user community, in both the private sector and in civil society 
  • public sector Licensors and Information Providers

Through the UKGLF the government:

  • directs central government departments and agencies
  • strongly encourages Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS) members 
  • invites the wider public sector

to adopt:

  • the policies and principles set out in the UKGLF in their licensing activities 
  • the Open Government Licence as the default licence for public sector information that is available for use and re-use free of charge

in making public sector information available for use and re-use.

1.2 Scope

The UKGLF addresses the use and re-use of the following types of information:
  • non-personal information subject to copyright and database right that is collected and produced by government and the public sector and which is published or accessible under access legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act or the Environmental Information Regulations (much of this information will be accessible on public sector web sites or already published by the public sector)
  • previously unpublished datasets released by the public sector on portals such as data.gov.uk
  • original and open source software and source code produced by the public sector or commissioned under Framework 1 of the NESTA agreements (see glossary) or similar agreements
  • datasets released under s102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

1.3 Status of the Framework

The UKGLF will evolve to include additional guidance and licensing solutions, as the Government's approach to licensing the use and re-use of public sector information develops.  We welcome comments and views about the UKGLF and its licensing solutions. Contact The National Archives at psi@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

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