New UK Public Sector Information rules rolled out (2) | Fieldfisher
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New UK Public Sector Information rules rolled out (2)

Paul Barton


United Kingdom

New Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations came into force on 18 July.

New Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations came into force on 18 July. There are some significant changes in the rules that public sector bodies, certain cultural sector bodies and those interested in re-using public sector information (PSI) need to be aware of.

The previous legislative framework covering PSI has now been updated to take into account the increased amount of data available and recent technological changes. It is recognised that core benefits, such as stimulating economic activity and increasing the efficiency and transparency of public functions, are at the heart of permitting re-use of PSI. Consequently, the new law increases the rights of re-users by making re-use mandatory for most public authorities. This sets a default charging mechanism of marginal cost recovery in most circumstances and brings public sector museums, libraries (including university libraries) and archives within the regime for the first time.

Public bodies should now clearly identify the nature of their public task, as this determines what information falls within the scope of the 2015 regulations. The key changes are summarised below.

Previous Regulations

  • Regulations apply to public sector bodies, including local government
  • Only accessible information is re-usable
  • Make information available
  • No obligation to allow re-use
  • Standard licences encouraged
  • Permits charging for re-use
  • Prohibits exclusive licences
  • Complaints process established

2015 Regulations

  • Application has been extended to include cultural sector: libraries (including university libraries), museums and archives
  • Information produced, held or disseminated within a public sector body’s public task must be re-usable (unless restricted or excluded)
  • Make information available through open licences and machine-readable and electronic formats whenever possible
  • Obligation to allow re-use of information unless restricted or excluded, or from a cultural sector body
  • Open, non-restrictive licences encouraged
  • Marginal cost pricing is the default. In most cases this will be nil for online or digital information. Certain public sector bodies such as information providers/traders, and libraries, museums and archives, may charge higher than marginal cost
  • Some cultural and other public sector bodies can use exclusive licensing
  • Complaint may be escalated to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which can make binding decisions on most issues, with appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal

This article was published in the October 2015 edition of Supply Management

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