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Public Sector Information defaults

This page is currently a scratchpad for the default status of public sector information in various jurisdictions. For PSI released or marked with a CC tool, see Government use of Creative Commons.

Jurisdiction Reference (if given) Response
Canada NA Copyright Act recognizes Crown Copyright and most provinces and the federal government have a "Queen's Printer" or a government printer (for Québec, where references to the Queen have mostly been eliminated from your government aparatus) in charge of dealing with reprint requests. These documents are covered by the Reprographic Rights Organisations (RROs) for the creation of cource-packs in schools and universities (don't get me started on this). There are some notable efforts to make data/documents available under some sort of flexible licensing scheme, such as:

http://geogratis.gc.ca/ - free access to (some) geospacial data from Canada. A notable exception to this are the postal (Canada's Zip) code master file, specially with electoral boundaries. Canada Post makes this available via a very expensive and restrictive license.

http://www.canlii.org/ - free access to primary legal materials (this is funded by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and is managed by a research center at Université de Montréal). The Government has passed a decree via the Gazette of Canada (for federal statutes at least) allowing copies of statutes to be made: http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/regu/si-97-5/latest/si-97-5.html

There are a hodge-podge of other regimes, mostly with special terms and conditions, for other types of government data. But GeoGratis and CanLII are the two most notable examples.

In sum, most everything that can still be protected by crown copyright still is, but there are notable efforts to make some content available freely/openly ("libre" in French).

Chile NA In Chile all the works made by public functionaries (informs, judicial sentences, software, database and text of law, for example) are not in public domain but they are protected by copyright law, where is the State the copyright holder.

Nevertheless, there a brand new access to information law where makes accessible a lot of information from the public institutions for the citizen. Of course, in that sense, what is public in the sense of the access is not quite the same that the copyright access to copy and reuse of those materials.

Colombia Law 23 of 1982 The general rule is protection but there are a couple of exceptions to express authorization for certain reproductions according to the Law 23 of 1982:

The following works are protected, but it is allowed to reproduce them provided that the copy is an exact reproduction of the official version:

Constitution, laws, treaties, orders, municipal ordinances, agreements, regulations, all kind of administrative acts and judicial decisions

It is possible to publish in the printed press, TV or broadcast as news the political speeches delivered in public and statements made in public in the court, or any other judicial fora or before any public authority, this apply also to conferences, speeches, sermons, lectures given in public provided that no reserve has been done as to it´s property, This works can not be compiled without the author's approval.

Czech Republic no. 106/1999 Sb. The Czech Republic has a law about free access to information which is considered to be national implementation of EC directive 2003/98/ES. It deals with free access, but omits the question of re-use. So in general the only PSI free to reuse is that excluded from copyright. Examples: legal regulations, court decisions, measures of general application, public deeds, public registers, parliament and senate publications, municipal chronicles, state symbols...

The Ministry of Information was initially charged with coordinating PSI activities, but that responsibility was taken over by the Ministry of Interior two years ago.

Italy NA Not applicable. There is no PSI provision in Italian law (so far). The usual laws apply, even if the rights holder is a public entity.
Japan Copyright Law (Law No. 48 of May 6, 1970, as amended at No. 91 of May 12, 1995)


Art. 13. The following shall not form the subject matter of the rights provided for in this Chapter:

(i) the Constitution and other laws and regulations;

(ii) notifications, instructions, circular notices and the like issued by organs of the State or local public entities;

(iii) judgments, decisions, orders and decrees of law courts, as well as rulings and decisions made by administrative organs in proceedings similar to judicial ones;

(iv) translations and compilations, of those materials mentioned in the preceding three items, made by organs of the State or local public entities.


What is not protected by copyright are the following:
  • law and other public ordinances, instructions, and announcements drafted and released by governmental body
  • judgments, decisions, orders made by courts
Netherlands NA Public acts are exempt from copyright, but they're just a part of PSI (which is not generally exempt from copyright).
Poland Law of February 1994 on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights

Art 4. The following shall not be protected by copyright:

(1) normative texts and the drafts thereof,

(2) official documents, documentary material, devices and symbols,

(3) descriptions of patents and other protection titles,

(4) mere news items.

The following types of works (among several others) are not subject to copyright, according to the Copyright Act:
  • normative acts and their official projects;
  • official documents, materials, marks and symbols;
  • published patent descriptions

Unfortunately, the concept of "official documents and materials" is ambiguous, leading to uncertainty regarding copyright status of many government documents - for instance those prepared by external institutions / experts.

Independently of copyright regulation, there are rules granting access to any public information not publicly available, upon request. Such access does not offer any waiving of copyright, if such applies to given information.

Slovenia NA According to Slovenian PSI legislation:
  • Access to PSI protected by copyright is granted.
  • Reproduction of copyright PSI is not allowed. This is the case also if the copyright owner is a public entity (e. g. the government). This will most probably change soon and reproduction of copyrighted PSI will only be impossible in case the copyright owner is a third person (not a public entity).
  • Re-use of copyright information is not allowed only, if the copyright owner is a third person (not the entity obliged to give PSI but someone else).

In accordance with our copyright legislation, official legislative, administrative and judicial texts are not copyright protected and can, therefore, be freely used.

South Africa Section 12(8) of the South African Copyright Act 1978 "(8) (a) No copyright shall subsist in official texts of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or in official translations of such texts, or in speeches of a political nature or in speeches delivered in the course of legal proceedings, or in news of the day that are mere items of press information."
South Korea Copyright Act Act No. 3916 December 30, 1989 as amended by Act No. 5015, December 6, 1995


Works Not Protected, etc.

7. The following shall not be protected under this Act:

1. Acts and regulations;

2. Notices, public notifications, instructions and others similar to them issued by the state or local public entities;

3. Judgments, decisions, orders, or rulings of courts, as well as rulings and decisions made by the administrative appeal procedures, or other similar procedures;

4. Compilations or translations of works as referred to in Subparagraphs 1 to 3 which are produced by the state or local public entities;

5. Current news reports which transmit simple facts;

6. Speeches delivered at an open session of courts, the National Assembly or Local Assemblies.

No work which falls under any of the following subparagraphs shall be protected
  • Constitution, Acts, treaties, orders, municipal ordinances and municipal rules;
  • Bulletins, public notifications, directives and others similar to them which are issued by the State or local governments;
  • Judgments, decisions, orders, or adjudications of courts, as well as resolutions and decisions made by the administrative appeals procedures, or other similar procedures;
  • Compilations or translations of those as referred to in subparagraphs 1 through 3 which are produced by the State or local governments; and

And political speeches delivered in public and statements made in public in the court, the National Assembly or local councils may be utilized in some way or other: Provided, That the speeches and statements of the same author are utilized after compilation, this shall not apply.

Taiwan Article 9, Taiwan Copyright Act The following items shall not be the subject matter of copyright:
  • The constitution, acts, regulations, or official documents.
  • Translations or compilations by central or local government agencies of works referred to in the preceding subparagraph.
  • Slogans and common symbols, terms, formulas, numerical charts, forms, notebooks, or almanacs.
  • Oral and literary works for news reports that are intended strictly to communicate facts.
  • Test questions and alternative test questions from all kinds of examinations held pursuant to acts or regulations.

The term "official documents" in the first subparagraph of the preceding paragraph includes proclamations, text of speeches, news releases, and other documents prepared by civil servants in the course of carrying out their duties.

Thailand Copyright Act, B.E. 2537 (1994) Art. 7 "7. The following shall not be deemed copyright works under this Act:

(1) news of the day and facts having the character of mere information, not being works in the literary, scientific or artistic fields;

(2) the constitution and legislation;

(3) regulations, bylaws, notifications, orders, explanations and official correspondence of the Ministries, Departments or any other government or local units;

(4) judicial decisions, orders, decisions and official reports;

(5) translations and collections of the materials referred to in items (1) to (4), made by the Ministries, Departments or any other government or local units.

United States Section 105 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (as amended) Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works:

Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

Other Information on PSI National Academy Press "The Socioeconomic Effects of Public Sector Information on Digital Networks" (in which the status of PSI usage in some countries can be found), available online at:

http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12687

Contact at The National Academies: Paul F. Uhlir (Rapporteur, U.S. National Committee for CODATA; Director, NRC Board on Research Data and Information)

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  • This page was last modified on 16 February 2011, at 21:24.