UK moves towards opening government data

Jane Park

In a step towards openness, the UK has opened up its data to be interoperable with the Attribution Only license (CC BY). The National Archives, a department responsible for “setting standards and supporting innovation in information and records management across the UK,” has realigned the terms and conditions of to accommodate this shift. is “an online point of access for government-held non-personal data.” All content on the site is now available for reuse under CC BY. This step expresses the UK’s commitment to opening its data, as they work towards a Creative Commons model that is more open than their former Click-Use Licenses. From the blog post,

“This is the first major step towards the adoption of a non-transactional, Creative Commons style approach to licensing the re-use of government information.

The Government’s commitment in Putting the Frontline First: smarter government is to “establish a common licence to re-use data which is interoperable with the internationally recognised Creative Commons model”. This is key to supporting new information initiatives such as the beta release of also launched today to promote transparency, public service improvement and economic growth.”

We at CC are thrilled by this new development and congratulate the UK for this move. Though we are confident that this shift will increase the UK’s capacity to foster reuse, collaboration, and innovation in government and the world, we hope to see the UK as well as other governments move in the future towards even fuller openness and the preferred standard for open data via CC Zero, a tool that “enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright-protected content to waive copyright interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright.”

This would not have been possible without the hard work of Creative Commons teams in the UK, especially that of Dr. Prodromos Tsiavos, our CC England and Wales Legal Project Lead. Check out the press release, the PerSpectIves or blog, and the Guardian article for more details.

4 thoughts on “UK moves towards opening government data”

  1. The sentence “All content on the site is now available for reuse under CC BY.” (in the first paragraph of the blog) suggests that the content of the site is currently licensed under CC BY – which is not the case; the site is subject to terms that are aligned so that they are interoperable with any Creative CC BY 3.0 Licence –


  2. Hey Joselyn, thanks for the comment. We agree the content isn’t licensed under CC BY; it’s clear that it’s licensed under the terms []. It’s the reuse which is permitted under our licenses, and by that we mean that all content on the site can be re-mixed and redistributed under CC BY. We used the term “reuse” to convey just what the notice says,

    “This means that you may mix the information with other Creative Commons licensed content to create a derivative work that can be distributed under any Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence.” [].

    You’re right to suggest that nobody can simply take the content unmodified and re-license; CC licenses don’t allow that either.


  3. This is the first step towards including the general public in the running of their country. The British public are very eager to be proud of their country and participate in it’s future success. In order to tap into this valuable resource it is very important to do so within an atmosphere of trust and honesty. The more transparent the organisation, the more you can ask of it’s components.

    Best of luck

    Spencer Jackson, Norwich

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