I recently submitted a FOI request to my local council, and had a response.

Part of the response stated the following:

You are free to use this information for your own use, including for non-commercial research purposes. It may also be used for the purposes of news reporting. Any other type of re-use, for example publishing the information, issuing copies to the public or marketing, will require our permission as copyright holder. If you intend to re-use this information in this manner you must apply to us.

I was hoping to use the information in the response as part of a petition to the local authorities to make a change. I was planning to do this by writing an open letter on my blog. Would I need to ask them for permission, or would it be covered under one of "own use", "non-commercial research" or "news reporting"?

  • In the future do not use abbreviations that represent acronyms for completely different topics, for the answer you will get although potentially accurate will not address your need and it ends up being a waste of time for everyone. – Rui Freitas Serrano Jun 15 '19 at 17:06
  • which abbreviation? I have tagged "United-Kingdom", so it should be pretty clear what is being asked? – Michal Paszkiewicz Jun 16 '19 at 6:51
  • 1
    I suspect that a (public) blog post would fall under "news reporting", but I'm rather unfamiliar with what qualifies as such in Britain. – zibadawa timmy Jun 16 '19 at 13:26
  • Maybe if you started by contextualizing that your goal was to retrieve ""average" statistics concerning charging of Bus Lane contraventions" the entire confusion could have been avoided :) – Rui Freitas Serrano Jun 17 '19 at 10:11
  • From my perspective, the answer provided by Dale M and the remark by gnasher729 address your "problem" in an assertive manner. The Council reply was "acute", however, you may explore your "right to state facts" and if you do it "wisely" then their "warning" is "void"... – Rui Freitas Serrano Jun 17 '19 at 10:14

They are claiming copyright protection so you cannot copy it unless fair dealing exemptions apply.

However, there is no copyright in facts - only in they way facts are presented. If you present them in a different way ...

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    The council's response is quite clever to keep you from publishing things. "publishing the information", and "issuing copies" would indeed be copyright infringement, so they are not lying, but they don't mention that publishing facts in your own words would be fine. – gnasher729 Jun 16 '19 at 15:17

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you the right to access recorded information held by public sector organizations.

The FOI request will be assessed under GDPR if you are asking information/ Data that pertains to you.

If the Data pertains to you then the answer provided by your local council is "illegal" for you have the "authority" to do with your Personal Data whatever you wish to.

Any Data/ information that does not pertain to you as a Data Subject may be subject to copyright restrictions if the council is the copyright holder.

So, without knowing if the information is exclusively constituted by your own PErsonal Data or 3rd party Data/ information, no one can give you a concrete answer.

| improve this answer | |
  • OK, so to clarify - I asked about "average" statistics concerning charging of Bus Lane contraventions, so it is not personal data regarding me, but neither is it personal data in general – Michal Paszkiewicz Jun 14 '19 at 13:34
  • 3
    @GeorgeWhite: The UK has a law called the "Freedom of Information Act". I presume this answer is about that law, and not the US law of the same name. – Nate Eldredge Jun 14 '19 at 18:31
  • Precisely, the UK has the FOI Act, and the question mentioned FOI which is the international acronym ... so if you which to use abbreviations, make sure not to use acronyms that mean something other than what you want to ask about, to avoid these misunderstandings. – Rui Freitas Serrano Jun 15 '19 at 17:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.