Location Data - Licences

ODUG developing business case

This data request has been included in the work ODUG is undertaking on third party licences. For further information, please see http://data.gov.uk/open-data-user-group-benefits-cases-for-release-of-data

Data request description: 
There are currently 1076 'location' data sets on data.gov.uk. Only 8 (0.74%) are listed as being available under an Open Government Licence. This means that it is impossible to use the data with confidence that you are not bound by restrictive terms and conditions that may lead to legal action being raised against you.
The data is available but the licensing terms are too restrictive
Suggested use: 
This release would improve data.gov.uk
Benefits overview: 
Transparency as to how data can be used.


Non OGL datasets

It would be useful if data.gov.uk

- publish the stats for OGL vs undefined or non-OGL licences for the whole site, indexed by data holder. We could then see which data controllers are using the OGL

- contact data holders and ask them to confirm that the data they supply here is available under the OGL

- set a deadline and delete non-compliant datasets

- make the OGL or other interoperable open licence the default for publication

Uncertainty about whether data is available under an open licence is a significant obstacle to people investing in re-use.

The credibility of data.gov.uk as an open data portal is undermined if you fail to establish for the assurance of end-users that data published here is in fact open data.

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OGL vs non-OGL stats for whole site

Hi randomguy,

You can view the statistics for OGL vs non-OGL licences for the whole site here:


Currently there are 7,387 OGL entries and 1,327 non-OGL entries (including those for which licensing is undefined).

Data.gov.uk is not intended to be an "open data portal" as such. It's a central portal for public data, but that's not quite the same thing. And Data.gov.uk is by no means a complete list either of available open data or of all public data assets.

At first glance the above stats make it look as if the majority of UK public data is subject to the OGL. However public bodies who list their data on Data.gov.uk do so voluntarily, and are arguably more likely to list their open data than their non-open data. Many data sets listed on Data.gov.uk as OGL are spending data, performance metrics, tables extracted from reports, etc. Only a small proportion of those data sets have broad economic or social potential for re-use.

I agree that many public bodies do not seem to have a very good grasp of licensing. It might help if the Data.gov.uk administrators provided some explanatory notes on licensing in their Guide for data publishers.

However in respect of location data sets particularly I don't think ignorance is really the problem. National location data sets tend to be controlled by public bodies that have existing commercial licensing operations, so they are predisposed to resist application of open data licensing to their data.

-- Owen Boswarva, 14/10/2012

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One Publisher!

It's worse than only 8 because they all come from just one publisher!  Not impressive.  Is it because whoever is uploading the data to data.gov.uk is unfamiliar with licensing and therefore errs on the side of a restrictive license because to tick the open option would require a lot of involvement from their legal teams?  So is this down to fear and ignorance on behalf of the publishers rather than a desire to restrict the use of the data?

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I agree

I agree. These resources should be able to be used openly and freely, not covered by restrictive licenses.

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Data.gov.uk stats understate availability of open location d

Those OGL/non-OGL statistics for location data sets on Data.gov.uk are a bit misleading, for a couple of reasons: 

1. The Open Government Licence is not the only open data licence in use by public bodies. Ordnance Survey, which as Britain's national mapping agency is a key producer of location data, has released a substantial number of data sets under its OS OpenData licence. Other public bodies also sometimes apply the OS OpenData licence to their location data because it includes or is derived from OS data. See these search results:


2. Data.gov.uk is not a complete record of open location data. For example see this download page maintained by the Environment Agency, which includes some additional data sets (from the EA and other bodies) that have been released under the OGL:


That said, I agree with the overall point Rob is making. Far too few location data sets held by UK public bodies have been released as open data.

-- Owen Boswarva, 14/10/2012

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OS OpenData License

In addition to location data-sets without a license, as a result of Ordnance Survey's Public Sector Mapping Agreement, there are a number of data-sets starting to appear under the OS OpenData License. This is almost the same as the OGL, but includes an additional attribution clause. This extra clause can cause interoperability problems with other licesnses. See my separate request at http://data.gov.uk/data-requests/os-opendata-license

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