Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens

Legal victory: statute database will be available to all for free

This week’s Guardian Technology reports that At last, the price is right for access to our laws – explaining that the legal statute database, which has been developed over years (and at some cost) will be available online for free.

We previously wrote about the pilot on August 17. Back then, there was a warning:

“The Statute Law Database and the material on the SLD website are subject to Crown copyright protection. The Crown copyright waiver that applies to published legislation generally does not apply to SLD because it is a value-added product.

But now, we learn via an email that was sent by Clare Allison, the enquiry system project manager at the Statute Publication Office, to testers of the Statute Law Database, that

the website as it stands will be launched free to the public once piloting has been completed.

However, there is a kicker – the government still wants (in the parlance of financiers) to sweat the assets by making them pay any way they can. The email continues:

A commercial strategy will still be developed next year, but will be looking at options that concern the commercial reuse of the data and the development of functionality that will serve the needs of the specialist user.”

Why not let commerce work out what it wants to do with the information, and just provide it, rather than trying to be both public and private sector?

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