Open Government Licence

The OGL symbol

The Open Government Licence is a copyright licence for Crown Copyright works published by the UK government. Other UK public sector bodies may apply it to their publications. It was developed, and is maintained, by The National Archives. It is compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.


Since 2001 some works of the UK government had been made available under the Click-Use Licence.[1] This was replaced by the first version of the OGL[2] when it was released on 30 September 2010. The OGL was developed by The National Archives.[1]

The OGL was developed as part of the UK Government Licensing Framework, which also includes a non-commercial Government licence that restricts the commercial use of licensed content, as well as a charged licence for situations where charging for the re-use of content is deemed appropriate.[3]

The first version was designed to work in parallel with other licences such as those released by Creative Commons,[1] mirroring the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence and the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence.[4]

Version 2.0, released on 28 June 2013, is directly compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 and the Open Data Commons Attribution License.[5] The OGL symbol (shown above) was also released along with this version, with the aim of indicating "at a glance, shows that information can be used and re-used under open licensing".[6]

Version 3.0 was released on 31 October 2014.[7] It is interoperable with Creative Commons' Attribution 4.0 license, and an OGL-licensed work could be used in a CC licensed work, however it should be clear that the material used is being used under the OGL and it should still be linked to the OGL.[8]


The OGL permits anyone to copy, publish, distribute, transmit and adapt the licensed work, and to exploit it both commercially and non-commercially. In return, the re-user of the licensed work has to acknowledge the source of the work and (if possible) provide a link to the OGL.[9]

The license is also available in machine-readable format.[4]


The OGL applies to many but not all Crown Copyright works.[9] The works must have been expressly released under the OGL terms by the relevant rights owner or authorised information provider.[10] The licence may also be used by other public sector bodies, such as local government, the National Health Service or the police.[4] It may be applied to texts, media, databases and source code.[4]

The OGL includes a list of types of information that it cannot cover. The licence states that it does not apply to:[9]

  • personal data in the Information,
  • Information that has not been accessed by way of publication or disclosure under information access legislation (including the Freedom of Information Acts for the UK and Scotland) by or with the consent of the Information Provider;
  • departmental or public sector organisation logos, crests and the Royal Arms except where they form an integral part of a document or dataset;
  • military insignia;
  • third party rights the Information Provider is not authorised to license;
  • other intellectual property rights, including patents, trade marks, and design rights; and
  • identity documents such as the British passport

The Ministry of Defence interpret the "personal data" restriction to mean that photographs where "at least one individual is recognisable" cannot be OGL.[11]


Use of the OGL is encouraged by the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015, regulation 12 of which requires licences to be as non-restrictive as possible.[12]

The OGL is used by organisations at various levels within the UK Government, including:


  1. 1 2 3 "Government removes barrier to public data use". Cabinet Office. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  2. "Open Government License 1.0". The National Archives. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  3. "UK Government Licensing Framework". The National Archives. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Shadbolt, Nigel. "New Open Government Licence". Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  5. "Open Government License 2.0". The National Archives. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  6. "Open Government Licence v2.0". The National Archives. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  7. "Launch of Open Government Licence 3.0". The National Archives. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  8. "Can works licensed under an OGL (Open Government Licence) be used as part of an OER?". JISC legal. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  9. 1 2 3 "Open Government License 3.0". The National Archives. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  10. "What OGL covers". The National Archives. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  11. "Copyright Licensing Information" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  12. Guidance on the implementation of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 - For re-users (PDF) (Report). The National Archives. July 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2015. Most Crown copyright information is available under the Open Government Licence (OGL), with attribution of source. ... All licences should be as open and non-restrictive as possible. The Open Government Licence is an example of a non-restrictive licence. It is the default for most Crown bodies, and preferred for all public sector bodies in cases where information is supplied for re-use and no charge is made.
  13. "MOD Copyright Statement". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  14. "Copyright". The National Archives. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  15. "Open Government Licence". HM Land Registry. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  16. "Price paid data – frequently asked questions". HM Land Registry. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  17. "Terms and conditions". Highways Agency. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  18. "Open Government Licence". Barrow Borough Council. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  19. "Using our open data - The City of Edinburgh Council Open Data - City of Edinburgh Council". City of Edinburgh Council. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  20. "Open data - Wyre Council". Wyre Council. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  21. "Runnymede Borough Council". Runnymede Borough Council. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  22. "Terms and conditions". Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  23. "Copyright Statement". Cadw. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
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