Today the New Zealand Government announced the NZGOAL framework for opening up material published by public bodies:

The New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL) was approved by Cabinet on 5 July 2010 as government guidance for State Services agencies to follow when releasing copyright works and non-copyright material for re-use by third parties. It standardises the licensing of government copyright works for re-use using Creative Commons licences and recommends the use of ‘no-known rights’ statements for non-copyright material. It is widely recognised that re-use of this material by individuals and organisations may have significant creative and economic benefit for New Zealand.

NZGOAL does not apply to information or works containing personal or other sensitive information, except for its guidance on anonymising datasets which, once stripped of personal information, might be licensed or released.

State Services agencies should make their copyright works which are or may be of interest or use to people available online for re-use on the most open of licensing terms within NZGOAL – the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) licence – unless a restriction applies. Likewise they should provide public online access to non-copyright material that is or may be of interest to people, using a ‘no-known rights’ statement.

NZGOAL provides a series of open licensing and open access principles for copyright works and non-copyright material. These principles address, among other things, issues relating to open licensing, open access, creativity, authenticity, non-discrimination, open format and charging. It also guides agencies through the questions they need to consider before releasing material for re-use.

One of the key points is the adoption of the 100% open Creative Commons Attribution license as the default for government information:

Open access to copyright works with Creative Commons Attribution (BY) licence as default

26 Unless a restriction in paragraph 29 applies, State Services agencies should make their copyright works which are or may be of interest or use to people available for re-use on the most open of licensing terms available within NZGOAL (the Open Licensing Principle).6 To the greatest extent practicable, such works should be made available online. The most open of licensing terms available within NZGOAL is the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) licence.

They also explicitly discourage noncommercial licenses to make sure that open government data can be used (and contributed to!) by commercial users — a point which is also made in the Open Knowledge Definition:


33 Except where necessary to protect their own or others’ commercial or other interests, agencies should not discriminate, when selecting an NZGOAL licence, between individual, not-for-profit and commercial uses of the relevant copyright works (the Non-Discrimination Principle).

Finally they urge departments to publish in formats which make the data easy to reuse (machine readable ones?):


49 When licensing copyright works and releasing non-copyright material for re-use, agencies should:

a. consider the formats in which they ought to be released, taking into account, where relevant, the wishes of those who will or are likely to re-use the works or material;

b. release them in the formats they know or believe are best suited for interoperability and re-use and are searchable and indexable by search engines; and

c. in the case of datasets, add their details into

50 When releasing works or material in proprietary formats, agencies should also release the works or material in open, non-proprietary formats (the Open Format Principle).

You can read the full document online here:

  • Amazing work — and we hope that other governments will take note and follow suit!

If you’re interested in open government data, you can join in discussion on our open-government list which includes representatives from key initiatives around the world, both within and outside government.

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Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at and he tweets at @jwyg.