Revenue earned from licenses to family history companies

FOI request reference: F0048182
Publication date: February 2017

Title: Revenue earned from licenses to family history companies
FOI request reference: F0048182
Response sent: February 2017

Request:

Is TNA prepared to release the total figure for the revenue it earned over the last 5 years from licenses to family history companies, or possibly the total it earns from licenses of digital copies of historical records
Outcome: Partially successful

Response:

Thank you for your enquiry of 28 January 2017, which was phrased as two questions:

1. Can TNA release the total figure for the revenue it earned over the last 5 years from licenses to family history companies

2. or possibly the total it earns from licenses of digital copies of historical records
Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Please note, as the second question did not specify a time period but you have written the request asking for an either/or answer, we have taken this period to be over the last five years to match the first question. Please do let me know if I have misinterpreted this.
Can TNA release the total earned from licenses of digital copies of historical records over the last five years?

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.

I am pleased to confirm that we are able to provide a consolidated number for the revenue earned by The National Archives over the last five years as a result of licensing copies of historical records.

The amounts, by year are:

2011/12 £3,091,370
2012/13 £3,164,750
2013/14 £2,831,271
2014/15 £2,702,292
2015/16 £2,924,775

Please note that we cannot provide information regarding the current financial year as it has not yet ended.
Can TNA release the total figure for the revenue it earned over the last 5 years from licenses to family history companies?

We are unable to provide you with the information you have requested because it is covered by the exemption at section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act, which exempts information from release if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person, or the public authority holding it.

This exemption applies to this question for the same reasons that it applied for the previous question asked in your corporate request F0047176.

When this exemption applies we are required to consider whether it is in the public interest to release the information. Please find below the arguments made in favour of and against the release of the information requested and the outcome of the public interest test:

Factors in favour of disclosure:

  • There is a public interest in openness and transparency in relation to Government Departments and how they are run.

Factors against disclosure:

  • Disclosure would provide information to direct competitors within the market that would create an imbalance and a commercial advantage to those competitors.
  • Disclosure of this information would affect The National Archives’ ability to negotiate contracts and generate revenue from non-public funds.

Details of the department’s decision not to disclose this information:

  • Public authorities can only withhold commercially sensitive information where the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing information.
  • It is in the public interest that The National Archives maintains the ability to negotiate contracts and generate revenue from non-public funds.

Consequently, The National Archives finds that the public interest in disclosing the requested information is outweighed by any prejudice to their commercial interests and that of the licensees.
The test has now been completed and it has been concluded that there is a stronger public interest not to release the requested information. Therefore, the section 43(2) exemption has been applied to the information being withheld.

Given that your request was phrased in a way that asked for at least one of these questions to be answered, I do hope that the information we have provided is helpful and what you were looking for.