Office of Public Sector Information

Office of Public Sector Information

Main menu and contents

Supplementary menus and contents

Guidance - Reproduction of United Kingdom, England, Wales and Northern Ireland Primary and Secondary Legislation

Number: 6
Date: 27 October 1999
(Revised 9 May 2005)

Legislation from official sources is reproducible freely under waiver of copyright. This guidance explains the process.


1. In the Government White Paper, The Future Management of Crown Copyright1, it was announced that copyright would be waived for certain types of material which are Crown copyright protected.

2. The purpose of this guidance is to describe how the waiver will be applied in relation to Legislation of the United Kingdom Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, and to Explanatory Notes to this legislation. It also covers certain subordinate legislation and Measures of the General Synod of the Church of England. For a more detailed description of the materials covered by this Guidance Note, see paragraph 8.

3. Crown copyright subsists specifically in Acts of Parliament and Measures of the General Synod of the Church of England in accordance with section 164 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 88). Crown copyright subsists in all other copyright works produced by officers or servants of the Crown in the course of their duties in accordance with section 163 of the CDPA 88.

4. Her Majesty the Queen is the first owner of Crown copyright and She has appointed the Controller to the office of Queen’s Printer of Acts of Parliament to hold and exercise Crown copyright and other copyrights owned by Her Majesty as fully as if such copyrights were her own.

5. The Queen’s Printer for Scotland has issued Guidance Notes on Acts of the Scottish Parliament, Explanatory Notes to Acts of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Statutory Instruments. These documents are available on the Office of the Queen’s Printer for Scotland website.

6. In this Guidance Note, the term Controller comprises the roles of Controller and Queen’s Printer.

7. This Guidance Note supersedes those parts of HMSO’s Dear Publisher2 and Dear Librarian3 letters which cover UK Acts of Parliament, Statutory Instruments, Rules and Orders.

Which material is covered?

8. The policy set out in this Guidance Note applies to the following Crown Copyright protected Material:

For ease of reference, the term Material as used in this Guidance Note should be taken to include the categories of material listed above. It covers not only the text but also the typographical arrangement of the text which is also subject to Crown copyright protection.

What is meant by Waiver?

9. Waiver means that the Crown is not seeking to exercise its legal right to license formally, restrict usage or charge for the reproduction of the Material. However, Crown copyright is asserted to protect the Material against use in a misleading or derogatory manner. For further details, see paragraph 12.

What is permitted under the Waiver conditions?

10. Provided that the obligations set out at paragraph 12 are complied with, there are no restrictions on how the Material may be reproduced. By way of illustration, users may undertake any of the following activities in relation to the Material:

a) reproducing and publishing the Material in any medium;

b) making multiple copies of the Material for distribution and sale;

c) reproducing the Material in any medium for the purposes of news reporting;

d) reproducing the Material on free and subscription web sites which are accessible via the Internet;

e) establishing hypertext links to the official legislation web sites4 which feature the complete text of current legislation, with accompanying Explanatory Notes for Acts;

f) downloading the Material featured on the legislation web sites to screen and printer;

g) reproducing the Material on Intranet sites;

h) making single or multiple copies, by photocopying or any other means, for the purposes of research and private study;

i) the making of single or multiple copies by libraries (by photocopying or any other means) for the supply of copies to readers, subject to the overriding need for prescribed libraries to recoup their costs as set out in S.I. 1989 No. 12125;

j) copying by libraries for the purposes of supplementing or replenishing their stocks;

k) making copies for circulation throughout an organisation whether in the public or private sector;

l) reproduction within the context of seminar or training packs;

m) reproduction within student theses and dissertations;

n) translation into other languages;

o) reproduction of forms set out within Acts of Parliament, Statutory Instruments and Statutory Rules for use and/or publication as free-standing forms. An exception to these arrangements are Firearms forms which may only be reproduced as forms by individual police forces in the UK under licence from the Home Office.

The above list is by no means exhaustive, but it seeks to illustrate the majority of potential uses of this Material.

11. It should be noted that the value added pre-condition which was a feature of previous HMSO guidance on this Material has been removed.

Obligations of users of the material

12. The waiver of Crown copyright in relation to the Material as described in paragraphs 9 and 10 is conditional on the following terms being complied with:

a) all reproduction of the Material should be made from an Official version. This means either the authorised Queen’s Printer or Government Printer for Northern Ireland published versions of the Material, or alternatively the text featured on the Official legislation web sites, see paragraph 10 (e);

b) the Material must be reproduced accurately. In the case of translations into other languages, a competent translator must be used where the translation is to be issued to the public;

c) care should be taken that the Material reproduced is from the current or up to date version, and that out of date Material is not presented as though it was current. Where out of date Material is being reproduced for the purposes of drawing comparisons with current Material or similar analysis, it should be made clear that the Material in question has been superseded, with appropriate cross references to the current Material;

d) the Material should not be used in a derogatory or misleading manner, nor should it be used for the purposes of advertising or promoting a particular product or service or for promoting particular personal interests or views;

e) the reproduced versions of Material should not be presented in a way which could imply it has Official status or that they are endorsed by any part of government;

f) all publisher imprints which are featured on the Official versions of the Material should be removed from any copies of the Material which are issued or made available to the public. This includes use of the Material on the Internet and on Intranet sites;

g) Royal Arms may only be reproduced when they form an integral part of the Material being reproduced and are used in that context. For example, you may reproduce the cover of an Act of Parliament featuring the Royal Arms in a compendium or database product if the rest of the Act is being reproduced. The Royal Arms should not otherwise be used without permission.

h) the Material is acknowledged appropriately as indicated in paragraph 13 below. For translations into other languages, the copyright acknowledgment should be given in both English and in the language in which the Material is being translated.

13. Where the reproduced versions of the Material is being published, circulated or issued to others - including Internet and Intranet use - one of the following Crown copyright acknowledgments should be featured in a prominent position:

a) Where one specific item is being reproduced:

** [Title of Publication] is reproduced under the terms of Crown Copyright Policy Guidance issued by HMSO

b) Where a range of Material is being reproduced:

Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland

Sources of the Material

14. As stated in paragraph 12 (a), users are permitted to reproduce the Material as it appears either in the Official published version or by downloading it from the legislation web sites. Under this Guidance Note users are not authorised to copy the Material from other sources, such as commercial products published by law publishers, for example. Nor do users have an automatic right to reproduce the Material from the Government’s Statute Law Database product or any other value added legislation product or service provided by Government. Such use would be the subject of separate and specific licensing arrangements.

Data Supply

15. The Material can be obtained in computer readable form from The Stationery Office Ltd, which publishes the Official versions of the Material under contract from the Controller. For details as to which Material is available in electronic form, the formats in which they can be supplied and the costs of providing the data in electronic form, please contact The Stationery Office Limited

Controller HMSO
Queen’s Printer



  1. Cm 4300 published 26 March 1999. The full text of this publication can be accessed on OPSI’s website at or is available from The Stationery Office Ltd. Price £9.50
  2. Dear Publisher letter dated 2 February 1997: Reproduction of Crown Copyright Material
  3. Dear Librarian letter dated 23 September 1996 (revised 6 January 1997): Photocopying of Crown and Parliamentary Copyright Material
  4. 5 The Copyright (Librarians and Archivists) (Copying of Copyright Material) Regulations 1989