Advice received from national museums in advance of House of Lords debate

Richard Stephens made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Department for Culture, Media and Sport,

I would be very grateful if you would kindly consider the following request, which I'm making under the Freedom of Information Act.

On 13 September 2018 a debate will take place in the House of Lords about museum image licensing practices. In preparation for this debate, your department has circulated a paper, which concludes thus: "Many museums received FOI correspondence asking for information on policy and procedures. DCMS has recently requested similar information to help construct our response to this debate. If you would like further information then please contact [name]@culture.gov.uk. It will be helpful to know in advance if a peer will be speaking in support of your policy."

Would you please share with me any information that DCMS has received in response to this request for 'similar information'?

Thank you for for your help.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Stephens

FOI Mailbox, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your email which is now being dealt with by the Freedom of
Information Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
You will receive a response to your information request within 20 working
days of receipt.
  

no-reply@dcms.ecase.co.uk on behalf of FOI Team, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

1 Attachment

FOI2018/12628

Richard Stephens

[FOI #518722 email]

Dear Mr Stephens,

Thank you for your email of 9 September, in which you made the following
request for information:

On 13 September 2018 a debate will take place in the House of Lords about
museum image licensing practices. In preparation for this debate, your
department has circulated a paper, which concludes thus: "Many museums
received FOI correspondence asking for information on policy and
procedures. DCMS has recently requested similar information to help
construct our response to this debate. If you would like further
information then please contact [name]@ culture.gov.uk. It will be helpful
to know in advance if a peer will be speaking in support of your policy."

Would you please share with me any information that DCMS has received in
response to this request for 'similar information'?

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the Act). I can confirm the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and
Sport (DCMS) holds information within scope of this request.

We have interpreted your request for 'similar information' to be in regard
to any information DCMS has received from museums regarding FOI
correspondence and policies and procedures in relation to image licensing.
Please find attached information DCMS holds within scope of your request.
We consider some information to be exempt from disclosure under section
43(2) (commercial interests) and section 40 (Personal Information) of the
Act. Where this is the case we have clearly marked it in the attachment.

Section 43 applies to information where its disclosure would, or would be
likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the
public authority holding it). When this exemption applies, we have to
consider whether the public interest in favour of maintaining the
exemption outweighs the public interest in favour of releasing the
information.

The factors we took into account in carrying out the public interest test
in relation to section 43 of the Act are set out below.

Public Interest Considerations in favour of disclosure:

In favour of disclosure we considered the public interest in transparency
of, and proper scrutiny of, revenue streams for public bodies. Both
transparency and scrutiny help ensure that public bodies acquire and spend
money effectively.

Public Interest Considerations in favour of maintaining the exemption:

In particular, we considered whether information that reveals commercial
information about the internal workings of the organisations concerned has
the potential to damage their commercial interests. We considered whether
this information, if disclosed, could damage these organisations'
relationships with their partners and undermine confidence. Museums are
reliant on commercially generated income to supplement their public
funding. Releasing the information could affect the Museum's ability to
compete with firms in the market. The loss of any potential self-generated
income in the current funding market, could have a detrimental effect on
the museum. In addition, release of such information could undermine
public confidence in these organisations. We believe that this is not in
the public interest.

It is also important that organisations are able to talk frankly with
government and that they can expect confidence to be maintained in
market-sensitive communications with Department for Digital, Culture,
Media and Sport (DCMS); disclosure of such communications between
organisations and DCMS could undermine confidence in DCMS and deter
organisations from sharing commercially sensitive information for
consideration.

Taking into account all the circumstances of this case, I have concluded
the balance of the public interest favours withholding this information.

Furthermore some information in the document attached has been redacted
under section 40 (personal information) of the Act. Section 40 is an
absolute exemption and therefore does not require a public interest test.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Team

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

4th floor, 100 Parliament Street

London SW1A 2BQ

Tel: 020 7211 6000

www.gov.uk/dcms

Complaints and comments

As is customary in our replies, I would like to explain that if you are
dissatisfied with any aspect of our response to your request for
information and/or wish to appeal against information being withheld from
you please send full details within two calendar months of the date of
this email to: [DCMS request email]

You have the right to ask the Information Commissioner (ICO) to
investigate any aspect of your complaint. Please note that the ICO is
likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted
before beginning an investigation.

Dear Department for Culture, Media and Sport,

I just wanted to thank you for the material you sent me in response to my FOI request, which must have taken you a long time to assemble and go through. Quite a bit of what you'd blacked out is already in the public domain but there's no need to review it as I have access to the info from other sources.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Stephens

FOI Mailbox, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your email which is now being dealt with by the Freedom of
Information Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
You will receive a response to your information request within 20 working
days of receipt.