Revenue received from Findmypast

FOI request reference: F0043214
Publication date: September 2015




Can you please state clearly the royalty revenue percentage the TNA has agreed to receive from Findmypast.


Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.

We are unable to provide you with the information you have requested because it is covered by the exemption at section 43(2) of the FOIA, which exempts information from release if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person, or the public authority holding it.

When this exemption applies we are required to consider whether it is in the public interest to release the information.

Please find below the arguments made in favour of and against the release of the information requested, and the outcome of the public interest test:

Factors in favour of disclosure:

  • There is a public interest in openness and transparency in relation to Government Departments and how they are run.
  • Royalty rates for standard contract types are standardised and set out on TNA’s website, so any licence held by a family history publisher will be set at one of these rates (for non-exclusive or Licensed Internet Associateship contracts).

Factors against disclosure:

  • TNA’s licensing programme does not involve procurement contracts – no public money is spent under this programme. Rather, commercial licensees invest heavily in our collection and cover all the costs of scanning, transcription, indexing, and the provision of online, name-searchable services for our content.
  • The licence agreements negotiated all include confidentiality clauses, and to breach those would put TNA at a disadvantage when negotiating future licence agreements, damaging relationships with our stakeholders and impacting on TNA’s ability to issue future contracts.
  • Findmypast hold multiple licences with TNA, of different types and at different rates – there is no single royalty rate applied to individual companies.
  • Disclosure could cause legal challenge by Findmypast for breach of commercial confidentiality.

Details of the department’s decision not  to disclose this information:

  • Public authorities can only withhold commercially sensitive information where the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing information.
  • Standardised Royalty rates for these contract types are published on our website.
  • Whilst the view of the third party, where given, should always be taken into account the final decision to disclose the information or apply section 43 will always rest with the public authority.
  • Consequently, The National Archives finds that the public interest in disclosing the requested information is outweighed by any prejudice to their commercial interests and that of the licensees.
  • It is in the public interest that TNA maintains the ability to negotiate contracts and generate revenue from non-public funds.

The test has now been completed and it has been concluded that there is a stronger public interest not to release of the requested information.  Therefore, the section 43(2) exemption has been applied to any of the information, which is being withheld.