Copyright assignments

Copyright is usually owned by the person or organisation that created the work. In the case of copyright works produced by civil servants, the copyright is owned by the Crown. Copyright can also come into Crown ownership by means of assignment, or transfer, of the copyright from the legal owner of the copyright to the Crown.

The Open Government Licence (OGL) is the default licence for the use and re-use of most Crown copyright material but in exceptional cases, Crown copyright may be assigned away from the Crown.

Assignments of Crown copyright are rarely granted, as they run contrary to government and open data policy. In exceptional circumstances, an application may be considered, but it should be noted that most applications for Assignment of Copyright away from the Crown are rejected.

How to make an application for an Assignment or Assignation

  • Initial submissions should be drafted in accordance with the assignment checklist (PDF, 0.5 MB) and sent to the Information Policy (IP) team at:
  • Applications will be reviewed by the IP team to ensure the material cannot be re-used under the OGL, and to measure suitability against the appropriate criteria
  • If there is a valid case for assignment, a formal submission will be prepared for review and approval.
  • If approved, formal Assignment documentation will be drawn up by The National Archives.

Workflow diagram showing the application process (PDF, 0.19 MB)

Completed assignments and assignations

Copies of all completed Assignments and Assignations are kept on file at The National Archives. Our website is updated to show details of all successful requests.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about copyright assignments.