I’ve used data a couple of times from the UK’s national statistics site:

The other day I went there to investigate their licensing as part of an effort to do a simple survey of the openness of various UK government agency’s data. To summarize their copyright statement (full details are in 1):

  • National statistics are under Crown Copyright
  • If you want to reproduce the statistics other than for research or private study you need a ‘core’ (now called PSI) click-use license

This is where it gets interesting. According to the PSI license (which I’ve textified and posted at ):

“In this Licence, to reproduce includes the following non-exclusive rights throughout the world:

6.1 publishing the Material in any medium. This includes featuring the Material on websites which can be accessed via the internet or via an internal electronic network or on an Intranet;”

This seems to be pretty broad and cover anything I’d like to do (there are some restrictions mainly of an integrity type in section 9 but they don’t materially alter this). If this licence was effective it would mean that the data was open. However further down the National Statistics copyright page one finds:

“Customers wishing to repackage and/or redistribute National Statistics material in their own products or services and allow their customers to use such material should contact msolicensing@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk with details of their request.”

This seems to imply that repackaging and redistribution require separate permission and are not covered by the PSI licence. If this is the case the freeedom to reproduce granted in the click-use license is rendered completely void. All of this makes me wonder whether the National Statistics UK are able to see some special distinction between ‘reproduction’ and ‘repackaging/redistributing’ that’s not apparent to the rest of us.

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.

1 thought on “UK National Statistics: Are They Open or Not?”

  1. Interesting – what’s your underpinning definition of “open”, and what are your findings about government departments?

    Wd be useful to know this quite soon.. like within a week..

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