UK government publishes Open Government Licence

The UK government has published the first version of the Open Government Licence (OGL), a document detailing how public sector information, including that of central government, can be accessed, reused, and licensed for free.

The move, which was authorised by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, makes a large amount of government information effectively open to use without needing the permission of the copyright holder. Attribution of the source of the material is required, however, but that is standard procedure for most open copyright licences.

The licence allows global, royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive use of material released under the OGL, giving freedom to copy, publish, distribute, transmit, adapt, and commercially exploit the information.

There are some limitations to the licence – such as it not applying to personal information, department logos or military insignia, but that is to be expected. The licence is also interoperable with the CC-BY Creative Commons licence.

The overall aim of the move is to allow the public access to and use of public sector information that is considered to have social and economic value beyond its original purpose, to promote creative activities, and to make the government more transparent and keep the public more informed about government work.