Open data
Produced in partnership with Paul Barton and Emily Parris of Fieldfisher
Open data

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with Paul Barton and Emily Parris of Fieldfisher provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Open data
  • What is open data?
  • The value of open data
  • Background and history of open data
  • The UK regime for re-use of PSI
  • New EU directive on open data and re-use of PSI
  • Technical access to open data
  • Legal issues
  • Creative Commons and other standard open data licences
  • Issues for licensees

What is open data?

In broad terms, ‘open data’ is data that is made publicly available in open, machine-readable format on licence terms that allow users to use and exploit the data on a royalty-free basis.

There is no single, universally accepted definition of open data. One example is the Open Definition 2.1 published by Open Knowledge International. This definition of open data is detailed, specific and intended to encourage the widest possible use. Key aspects of the Open Definition are:

  1. the data should be provided at no more than a reasonable one-time reproduction cost

  2. the data should be provided without any restrictions on its use and it must be possible to process the data using at least one open source, free or ‘libre’ software tool

  3. the licence accompanying the data must satisfy certain conditions. Broadly, the licence must allow use of the data for any purpose and the field of use should not be restricted. The licence must allow distribution and modification of the source data, the creation of derivative works based on the source data and for the source data to be compiled and distributed with other data. Licences that include conditions on attribution, acknowledgements copyright notices etc, and ‘share alike’ provisions, requiring the licensee to onward license derivative works on the same open terms can fall within