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7 Glossary and references

(* indicates a term in the Open Government Licence)


The online licensing system for Crown and Parliamentary copyright information developed by the Office of Public Sector Information in 2001. The Click-Use PSI Licence allowed for the re-use of Crown copyright information prior to the Open Government Licence and the Click-Use Parliamentary Licence, allows for the re-use of Parliamentary copyright information. Re-users complete an online registration form and then apply for a licence on the system, clicking a button to accept the terms and conditions.

Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office *

The official appointed by Letters Patent from Her Majesty The Queen to manage copyright and database right owned by the Crown.


Part of the family of intellectual property rights including trademarks, designs and patents. Copyright applies automatically when a work is created in a material form. Copyright applies to literary works, such as website articles/annual reports; artistic works maps, drawings, paintings and photographs; films; sound recordings and typographical arrangements. The first owner of copyright will normally be the artist/author or organisation that created the work (except for Crown copyright). Copyright subsists in a work regardless of the level of artistic or literary merit. The standard term of copyright is the life of the author plus 70 years.

Creative Commons

A non-profit organisation which offers a suite of licences to copyright holders to enable them to license their work. The licences offered are all free and licences offered allow the copyright holder to stipulate the certain conditions on how the work may be re-used.

Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)

A licence developed to allow the use of information covered by copyright with the requirement that the source of the material is acknowledged.

Crown Copyright*

Crown copyright is an intellectual property right which applies to works created by servants or officers of the Crown in the course of their duties (section 163, Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). Under normal circumstances, copyright would rest with the author or organisation that produced the work. In the case of Crown servants, most work will be covered by Crown copyright, regardless of the department or agency for which they work. For the purposes of copyright, the Crown is a single legal entity. Unlike standard copyright, Crown copyright lasts for 50 years from end of the calendar year in which the work was published (but this period will start again when new versions are issued) and a maximum of 125 years for unpublished works.

Crown Database Right*

An intellectual property right which applies to databases created by Crown servants in the course of their duties in a similar way to Crown copyright. This is set out in Section 14(3) of the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997.

Database Right*

An intellectual property right which applies to databases defined by the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 as 'a collection of independent works or materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and are individually accessible by electronic or other means'. The protection of databases is unique to the European Union. Database right apply only to the collection of works, not to the individual works contained within it. Database right protection lasts for 15 years from when the database was completed but the 15 year period will restart if the database is altered significantly.

Delegations of Authority

Authority granted from the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office to Crown bodies enabling them to license the re-use of information which they produce.  Organisations with complete delegations to license information include trading funds, however some departments have partial delegations to license the use of particular information. Departments with delegations of authority are subject to the supervision of the Information Fair Trader Scheme.

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)

A means to request access to information relating to the environment. Requests for information in England, Northern Ireland and Wales are governed by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Requests made in Scotland are covered by the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Freedom of Information (FOI) Acts

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 extends to England Northern Ireland and Wales. Scotland is covered by its own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO)*

The statutory body responsible for the licensing and management of Crown copyright, and for publishing official publications and legislation under the authority of Her Majesty The Queen. HMSO is a part of The National Archives.


For the purposes of the UK Government Licensing Framework and Open Government Licence, 'information' means information protected by copyright or by database right (for example, literary and artistic works, content, data and source code). Information can include data, text from public sector body websites, annual reports, statistics, diagrams, graphs, images and software.

Information access legislation

The Freedom of Information Act 2000, Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).

Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS) A scheme to set and assess standards for public sector bodies in allowing the re-use of their information. Any public sector body may apply to become IFTS accredited. However, all Crown bodies that wish to charge for re-use of official information and have a full licensing delegation of authority from the Controller of HMSO must become IFTS accredited.

Information Provider*

The person, creator or organisation providing the information under the Open Government Licence.

Intellectual property rights

 The legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. The purpose of intellectual property law is to safeguard the rights of creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services by granting them certain time-limited rights to control the use made of those productions.  Intellectual property rights include trademarks, patents, registered designs and copyright.


A legal document giving permission to use information.


(verb)The act of giving a formal (usually written) authorisation.
Licensor* The party that grants a licence to others. In the Open Government Licence, the Licensor is any information provider which has the authority to offer information under the terms of the Open Government Licence or the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, who has the authority to offer information subject to Crown copyright and Crown database right and information subject to copyright and database right that has been assigned to or acquired by the Crown, under the terms of the Open Government Licence.

Machine readable

The capability of storing data in a format that can be accessed and read by an automated sensing device, for example, by a computer system or web query.

Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI)

A part of The National Archives, OPSI is the regulator of the public sector information holders in their information trading activities under the Information Fair Trader Scheme; investigating complaints made against public sector information holders under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations.

Open Data Commons

An Open Knowledge Foundation project run by its Advisory Council and like the Foundation is a not-for-profit effort working for the benefit of the general open knowledge community. Open Data Commons is the home of a set of legal 'tools' to help others provide and use open data. 

Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By)

A database specific license requiring attribution for databases, created by Open Data Commons. This makes ODC-BY similar to the Creative Commons Attribution license, but is built specifically for databases. It covers the use of a database but not the contents of the database which may be covered by copyright or other intellectual property rights.

Open Government Licence (OGL)*

The Open Government Licence offers a legal solution to enable the provision and use of public sector information under a common set of terms and conditions. It enables any public sector information holder to make their information available for use and re-use under its terms. The main requirement for re-users is to attribute the information provider and source.

Personal data*

Defined in the Data Protection Act 1998 as 'data which relate to a living individual who can be identified-
(a) From those data, or
(b) From those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data  controller,
and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of the individual.'

Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003

Rules that govern the use of electronic marketing.

Public sector information

Information produced by central and local government, the Houses of Parliament, the Parliaments and Assemblies of the devolved administrations or another public body as defined in the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005.

Source code

Program instructions written by a software developer and later translated (usually by a compiler) into machine language that a computer can understand.

The National Archives (TNA)

The National Archives is a non-ministerial government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. It incorporates the Office of Public Sector Information, Her Majesty's Stationery Office and the Historic Manuscripts Commission. It is the official government archive for England, Wales and the United Kingdom. It advises on the creation, management and preservation of official information.

Third party rights

Information, the rights for which are not owned by the information provider or licensor.

Trading Funds

Government departments which charge for the services they provide and are able to recover the cost of its outgoings under the Trading Funds Act 1973. Trading funds include the major information providing departments, including Ordnance Survey, Met Office, UK Hydrographic Office and the Land Registry.


Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs, also known as URLs) are short strings or characters that identify resources in the web: documents, images, downloadable files, services, electronic mailboxes, and other resources. They make resources available under a variety of naming schemes and access methods such as HTTP, FTP, and internet mail addressable in the same simple way.