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Physical & Digital Collections

Official Publications: Copyright

A guide to the official publications collections held within the Cambridge University Libraries.


Copyright exists in official publications as it does in any publication.

If dealing with print copies please look on the back of the title page to find a copyright statement. If using a website look for a copyright or licence statement. If you are using a subscription database there may be restrictions on how much you can print-out, download or export.

Generally, when using a UK publication, under fair dealing you can copy up to 5% of the publication for private research or study. 

Fortunately, most recent UK official publications are licensed under the Open Parliament Licence or Open Government Licence which allow copying and dissemination (see boxes below).


The symbol for copyright - a black letter c, surrounded by a black circle.


It is the individual's responsibility to ensure that their actions do not breach copyright law or the licence agreements for electronic products. Further advice can be found on the Legal Services Offices site.

Open Government Licence

The National Archives has developed the Open Government Licence (OGL) under the UK Government Licensing Framework.

The default licence for UK Government publications is the OGL which is now in its third version. Guidance for users can be found here.

The licence allows the copying and distribution of the information but the source must be acknowledged and, if possible, a link provided too.

Government policy is that public sector information should be licensed for use and re-use free of charge under the OGL but there are still exceptions so continue to be vigilant in checking what you are copying and reusing.

Open Parliament Licence

Publications issued by the House of Commons and House of Lords are licensed under the Open Parliament Licence. This includes items previously published under Crown Copyright. The licence allows the copying and distribution of the information but the source must be acknowledged and, if possible, a link provided too.

For full information see the Open Parliament Licence page on the Parliament website.

Please note the Open Parliament Licence does not cover:

  • the Crowned Portcullis
  • images featured on Art in Parliament
  • Parliamentary Archives
  • parliamentary photographic images
  • live and archive video or audio broadcasts


The symbol for Open Government Licence - OGL - in thick black letters with the G forming an arrow.

Public Sector Information

The National Archives provides some useful guidance on the reuse of public sector information.

Copyright LibGuide

For more information about copyright generally consult our new Copyright LibGuide.

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