Q. What is Crown copyright?

A. It is copyright material which is produced by employees of the Crown in the course of their duties. Most material originated by ministers and civil servants is protected by Crown copyright.

Q. What sort of material is covered by Crown copyright?

A. It covers a wide range of material, including legislation, government codes of practice, Ordnance Survey mapping, government reports, official press releases, government forms and many public records.

Q. Where can I find out more about the licensing of Crown copyright material?

A. The Open Government Licence is the standard licence for the re-use of Crown copyright material. Further information can be found in the UK Government Licensing Framework.

Q. Do government departments have any responsibility for licensing Crown copyright?

A. All departments have delegated authority from the Controller of HMSO to authorise private sector organisations to publish official versions of material on their behalf. Departments also have authority to authorise the re-use of their departmental logos.

Most government trading funds have delegated authority to license the re-use of material that they originate. Departments which run photographic/film archives also operate under delegated authority as there is such a close link between the licensing and supply of prints, negatives and copies of films.

Q. What is delegated authority?

A. It covers those cases where the Controller has authorised a government department to license the re-use of Crown copyright material. This takes place where there are sound policy or practical benefits in doing so.

Q. How can I find out which departments have delegated authority?

A. See the list of departments with delegated authority. Applications to re-use material produced by these departments should be sent direct to them.

Q. Are databases automatically covered by Crown copyright?

A. No, databases enjoy separate protection under the Database Regulations. Generally, the database right is held by the person or organisation that has made the arrangements for the database to be created.

Q. What authority does the Queen's Printer/ Controller of HMSO have to manage Crown copyright and Crown databases?

A. The Queen's Printer and the Controller of HMSO has been granted Letters Patent that authorise her to manage copyrights and databases owned by the Crown.

Q. How long does Crown copyright last?

A.This depends on whether the work has been published.

Crown copyright work which has been published will have copyright protection for 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was published.

Unpublished works have a period of protection of 125 years from the end of the year in which the work was made or until 31 December 2039 (i.e. 50 years from the year in which the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 came into force).

Copyright in a work which has been assigned to the Crown lasts 70 years after the death of the person who created it.

Q. How will I know if material is Crown copyright?

A. Most published material will feature a Crown copyright statement © Crown copyright. If you are in doubt, it is advisable to check with us. Copyright which has been assigned to the Crown will normally feature one of the copyright lines - © Controller and Queen's Printer or © Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Q. How do I know whether an organisation is a Crown body (and so a producer of Crown copyright material)?

A. We have produced a comprehensive list of UK Crown bodies.

Q. Can I reproduce Birth, Death , Marriage and Civil Partnership Certificates?

A. See the Crown copyright guidance note below for more information:

Copying of Birth, Death, Marriage and Civil Partnership Certificates and Marriage Registers (PDF, 0.04Mb)

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