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Cornwall Council Re-use of Public Sector Information

Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations (RPSI) 2015

What is public sector information for RPSI purposes?

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Public sector information means information that the Council produces as part of its core role and functions (otherwise known as Public Task), as defined in legislation or established through custom and practice.

Information that is not held as part of our public task would not be covered by RPSI.

RPSI does not apply to information that would be exempt from disclosure under information access legislation, such as the Data Protection Act (the DPA), the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) and the INSPIRE regulations.

Information that would be exempt under section 21 of the FOIA, because it is already reasonably accessible to a requester (for example because it is on the Council’s website) would normally be available for re-use.

RPSI does not apply to recorded information we hold if someone else holds the intellectual property rights (for example copyright or database right). We can only permit re-use if we hold the intellectual property rights in the information.

What is re-use?

Re-use means using public sector information, for a purpose other than the initial public task it was produced for.

In essence, this means an individual, a company or other organisation taking information that we have produced and republishing it, or using it to produce a new product or resource, often by combining it with other information. This is sometimes, though not always, on a commercial basis. RPSI is intended to encourage re-use of public sector information.

RPSI is about permitting re-use of information and how it is made available. It is not about accessing information, which is dealt with under information access legislation such as a Freedom of Information Request.

What Organisations does RPSI apply to?

Bodies covered by RPSI are referred to as public sector bodies and include central and local government and a number of other specified bodies. Therefore RPSI applies to Cornwall Council. RPSI also applies to libraries (including university libraries), museums and archives. However, documents held by educational and research establishments, public service broadcasters and cultural and performing arts bodies (other than libraries, museums and archives) are excluded.

RPSI is UK-wide, ie it applies to public sector bodies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Publishing an information asset list

The Council is required to publish a list of the main information it holds within its public task. This should include information that we already publish proactively and unpublished information.

This information is contained within the Council’s Publication Scheme.

Dealing with requests for re-use

To make a request for re-use to Cornwall Council, you must submit the request in writing, with your name and address for correspondence, and specify the information that you want to re-use and the purpose you intend to use it for.

You do not need to make a request if we have already made the information available under the Open Government Licence (OGL), which would be stated alongside the information, but you must follow the terms of the OGL.

When we receive a request to re-use information, we must respond within 20 working days. This time limit can be extended if the information is extensive or the request raises complex issues, but we must inform you of this within the 20 day period.

We must permit re-use in response to a request. Please note however, that RPSI does not apply to information that would be exempt from disclosure under information access legislation such as Freedom of Information, and so we do not have to permit re-use of exempt information and information we have withheld.

If the Council has not previously disclosed the information requested, then we will deal with this as an access request under the appropriate legislation (as a Freedom of Information or Environmental Information Regulations request) in order to decide whether the information is exempt. This will be the first stage of dealing with the request and once responded to we will then deal with the re-use request.

We will make the information for re-use available in the format and language in which it is held by the Council. If we don’t already hold it in an open and machine readable format with metadata, but it’s possible and appropriate to make it available in this way, then we will do so. ‘Machine readable’ means that the information is structured so that software can extract specific elements of the data. This means open formats, such as CSV, which are preferable to proprietary formats such as XLS.


We are able to charge for permitting re-use, but with some important exceptions. We can only charge for the marginal costs of reproducing, providing and disseminating the information. For example, if we provide a copy of a dataset on disk for re-use, we could charge for the cost of the disk and postage. However, in many cases, these costs will be negligible, and if we are publishing the information on our website, it is unlikely we will make a charge and as highlighted, under the Open Government Licence, information is made available for re-use free of charge.

The exceptions to the default position of marginal cost concern when we are required to generate revenue to cover either:

  • a substantial part of the costs relating to our public task;
  • documents for which we are required to generate revenue to cover a substantial part of our costs;
  • libraries, museums and archives.

We will use Regulation 15 of RPSI when considering the charge, which sets out how the charge should be calculated.


We may impose conditions on re-use but the conditions will be as open and non-restrictive as possible. The easiest way we will do this is to use the Open Government Licence. This allows re-use of public sector information without charge for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, with minimal conditions.

However, other licences may be appropriate in particular situations, including where there is a charge for re-use. The UK Government Licensing Framework includes other types of standard licences.

Generally speaking, we will not enter into exclusive licensing arrangements with a particular person or organisation, but there are some limited exceptions to this.

Datasets under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The dataset provisions in FOIA, introduced by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, are to do with making datasets that have been requested under FOIA available for re-use. They cover the format in which such information should be made available, charges and licences for re-use. RPSI makes certain amendments to these provisions. As a result, the requirements relating to datasets under FOIA are now as follows.

Where the Council makes a dataset available in response to a FOIA request, we will, so far as is reasonably practicable, make it available in a re-usable, electronic form. We will also endeavour to make requested datasets available in our publication scheme in a re-usable form unless we are satisfied that it is not appropriate to do so.

However, if the dataset falls under RPSI, for example because it is produced as part of our public task, then we will calculate any charges for allowing re-use and deal with any licences under RPSI and not FOIA. This applies to providing the dataset in response to a request and making it available in the publication scheme. Therefore, for any dataset that is covered by RPSI, the FOIA applies to the format in which it is made available, but RPSI applies to the charges and licences for re-use.

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