Free Our Data: the blog

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

One victory for free data: Statute Law database goes online

Nicely timed just ahead of Christmas, the Department for Constitutional Affairs has put its Statute Law Database online. You can search for any extant law, and various others – including how upcoming legislation will affect existing laws.

We’re happy this is going to be free for anyone (even if it’s not quite user-friendly.. we await MySociety getting their hands on it).

But impressively enough it does go all the way back to the Statue of Malborough of 1267 which points out that

Fermors, during their Terms, shall not make Waste, Sale, nor Exile of [M2 House,] Woods, Men, nor of any Thing belonging to the Tenements that they have to ferm, without special Licence had by Writing of Covenant, making mention that they may do it; which thing if they do, and thereof be convict, they shall yield full Damage, and shall be punished by Amerciament grievously

3 Responses to “One victory for free data: Statute Law database goes online”

  1. Michael Cross Says:

    Significantly, the database is free to read but not (necessarily) to re-use. See the Crown Copyright condition: “The content is available free of charge to be viewed on screen, copied, printed out for private study and research purposes or for internal circulation within an organisation. To enquire about any other re-use of the data, including in commercial information products and services, please apply for a Click-Use Licence at .”

    On behalf of my company, I’ve applied for a Click-Use Licence to publish material on a web resource for journalists. We’ll see how we get on.

  2. Charles Arthur Says:

    ..And another rather salient point made at : if you search for “patent” you’ll only get the Letters Patent act of 1571 and the Price’s Candle Act of 1992.

    Ignoring of course the Copyright,Designs and Patents Act of 1988, revised in the 1990s. Baby steps..

  3. Michael Cross Says:

    And here’s the reply I got from the Office of Public Sector Information. Looks like the database is free, after all.

    Thank you for your email application for a Value Added Licence. You made an application for a Value Added Licence for reuse of material taken from the Statute Law database. I can confirm that you may re-use this material, however, you do not need a Value-Added Licence, the Click-Use Licence you need is the PSI Licence, and is the licence which covers the re-use of core government material. The Licence is free of charge, lasts for 5 years and allows you to re-use as much core material as you want during that time. The Core Licence can be taken out online via HMSOnline at

Leave a Reply