The Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005

Reference: UK/2005/SI/1515

The Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 establish a minimum set of rules governing the re-use and the practical means of facilitating re-use of existing documents held by UK public sector bodies.

EU directive

The Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 implement the EU Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information and establish a minimum set of rules governing the re-use and the practical means of facilitating re-use of existing documents held by UK public sector bodies.

The Regulations link with the Freedom of Information Act 2000; freedom of information concerns access to information, these Regulations concern how the information can be re-used. However, there is no automatic right to re-use merely because an access request has been granted. Information that is exempt under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or other legislation is also exempt under the Regulations. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for public sector information policy, and the National Archives (NA) supervises and enforces the regime.

Issues covered under the Directive on the Re-use of Public Sector Information

1. Procedures

How to deal with requests for re-use.

2. Availability

  • Documents should be available for re-use in all formats and languages in which the information exists.
  • Where possible, the material shall be made available by electronic means.
  • Requests for re-use shall be processed, documents shall be made available or, if a licence is needed, the licence offer shall be finalised within a specific time frame.
  • Practical tools should be provided to find the available material for re-use more easily, e.g. lists of information assets or portal sites.

3. Charging

  • Charges cannot exceed a certain ceiling. The calculation of the ceiling is based on costs incurred to produce the information, together with a reasonable return on investment.
  • Lower charges (or no charges at all) can certainly be applied. Public sector bodies are encouraged to do so.
  • On request, public sector bodies must indicate the method used to calculate charges.

4. Transparency

  • Transparency of conditions the re-use of public sector information.
  • Charges and other conditions have to be pre-established and published.
  • Clear information on the grounds for refusal in case of negative decisions, and on means of redress to complain about decisions that affect applicants.

5. Non-discrimination

Conditions for re-use shall be non-discriminatory for comparable categories of re-use.

Cross-subsidies: cross-subsidies are prohibited. If public bodies re-use their own documents to produce added-value services in competition with other re-users, equal charges and other conditions must apply to all of them.

6. No exclusive arrangements

  • Exclusive arrangements are prohibited
  • In exceptional circumstances exclusive rights may be authorised if they are necessary to provide services in the public interest.

7. Licensing

  • Availability of standard licences, in digital format.
  • Licences should not unnecessarily restrict possibilities for re-use or be used to restrict competition.

Public sector organisations need effective information and records management for awareness, business use, sound decision-making, security, evidence and accountability. It also allows them to comply with information legislation and Government policy.

Information and records are corporate assets, the loss of which could cause disruption to the organisation’s business. The level of risk will vary according to the value of the asset to the organisation. The creation and management of records and information that are authentic, reliable and accessible is essential for a council to carry out its work and ensure good governance.

Public bodies should consider

  • What categories of information should they be creating or acquiring?
  • Are the categories of information shared appropriately across the authority?
  • Is the information subject to appropriate access controls?
  • Is data sharing supported by appropriate protocols?

EU proposal on raw data

In December 2011, the European Commission announced a proposal for a directive on raw data which aims to revise Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information.

The draft proposal for a revision of the Directive proposes to further open up the market for services based on public-sector information, by

  • including new bodies in the scope of application of the Directive such as libraries (including university libraries), museums and archives;
  • limiting the fees that can be charged by the public authorities at the marginal costs as a rule;
  • introducing independent oversight over re-use rules in the Member States;
  • making machine-readable formats for information held by public authorities the norm.

The draft Directive will be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council.

More information on the proposed revision of the Directive can be found here.

Further information

E RADAR Resources