Copyright: Re-use of public sector information

The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 encourages the re-use of public sector information – that is, information in which public authorities listed in the regulations hold the copyright.

Copyright is effectively a right to prevent copying of original material. It can be “infringed” by making copies, publishing and issuing copies of copyright material to the public, or to any other person, without permission.

Information released by the council

Most of the information that we provide in response to Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests will be subject to copyright protection. In most cases the copyright will be owned by London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The copyright in other information may be owned by another person or organisation, as indicated in the information itself.

You are free to use any information supplied for your own use, including for non-commercial research purposes. The information may also be used for the purposes of news reporting.

However, any other type of re-use, for example, by publishing the information or issuing copies to the public will require the permission of the copyright owner.

For information where the copyright is owned by another person or organisation, you must apply to the copyright owner to obtain their permission.

What is meant by re-use?

When we release information to you which you have requested under access to information legislation (such as the Freedom of Information Act), you may ask if you can re-use the information, perhaps for commercial purposes. Without the necessary permission, you can breach our copyright. It is this situation with which the regulations are concerned.

Nothing in the regulations affects rights of access under other legislation, such as Freedom of Information.

What are the basics of the regulations?

We are not obliged under the regulations to make public sector information available for re-use, but if we do so, it must be done in accordance with the regulations. In these circumstances, the regulations place the following obligations on us:

  • We have 20 working days in which to respond to a request for re-use. This period may be extended where the request is extensive or complex
  • A licence fee can be issued if we do not wish re-use to be free
  • A licence must not restrict competition
  • Exclusive licensing arrangements will not be allowed, except for the provision of a service in the public interest. Such arrangements will be published
  • We should make available to the public our conditions for re-use and any standard charges for re-use
  • Information for re-use should be made available electronically where possible and appropriate
  • We must not discriminate between applicants making requests for re-use for comparable purposes.


The regulations do not affect our copyright. The supply of documents and information to you by us (for example under Freedom of Information and on our website) does not give you a right to re-use them in a way that would infringe that copyright.

Brief extracts of any material may be reproduced without our permission, under the “fair dealing” provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; for the purposes of research for non-commercial purposes; private study; criticism; review and news reporting - all subject to an acknowledgement of ourselves as the copyright owner. Wider re-use requires our permission. This applies equally to any of the council’s logos.

We may choose to allow re-use under a licence, imposing conditions on the re-use of the information to ensure it is not used in a manner inconsistent with our copyright; and we may also decide to charge a re-use fee.

Download a re-use of information application form.

How to contact us

If you have any questions relating to copyright and re-use please email or you can contact:

Complaints and Information Governance Team
Directorate of Governance
Tower Hamlets Town Hall
160 Whitechapel Road
E1 1BJ