Free Company Data - Third-party Intellectual Property

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Hello,

I am writing to request some information under the Freedom of Information Act.

These questions relate to the Free Company Data Product, which you are making available for reuse under the Open Government Licence at http://download.companieshouse.gov.uk/en.... I am trying to ascertain whether there is any third-party intellectual property in the address information within that dataset that is not covered by the licence.

Specifically, I am trying to find out:

1. To your knowledge, does the dataset contain any information that is copyright Royal Mail, or data over which Royal Mail has a database right?

2. To your knowledge, does the dataset contain any information that is copyright Ordnance Survey, or data over which Ordnance Survey has a database right?

I appreciate it might be hard to give a clear answer to either of these questions because they may venture into areas of legal uncertainty (for example about the extent of Royal Mail's copyright or database rights). Therefore please answer the following:

1. How was the database behind the published dataset first created, specifically:

a. Who created it, when, and from what sources?
b. Was the Postcode Address File from Royal Mail or AddressBase from Ordnance Survey, or any predecessor products to AddressBase, or any products incorporating these products, used as a source of addresses when creating the dataset?
c. Were any of these products used to check, validate or correct addresses from another source when the original database was created?

2. How is the database behind the published dataset updated, specifically:

a. What sources of information are used to update the database?
b. Are updates from Royal Mail or Ordnance Survey used to provide updates to the database?
c. Do you check, validate or correct addresses in updates to the database against either the Postcode Address File from Royal Mail or AddressBase from Ordnance Survey, or any service that uses those databases as its source?

3. Have you taken legal advice prior to making this data available under the Open Government Licence that by doing so you are not infringing third-party intellectual property rights?

I am submitting this request publicly through WhatDoTheyKnow in order to ensure that there is a public, referenceable record of your response.

Thank you in advance,

Stuart Harrison

Ceri Harnett, Companies House

Our Ref: FOI 158/08/14
Dear Mr Harrison
Thank you for your email below.
 
The Information Rights Team is looking into your enquiry and will reply as
soon as possible.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Ceri Harnett
Information Rights Team
>>> Stuart Harrsion <[FOI #224331 email]>
11/08/2014 09:21 >>>
Hello,

I am writing to request some information under the Freedom of Information
Act.

These questions relate to the Free Company Data Product, which you are
making available for reuse under the Open Government Licence at
[1]http://download.companieshouse.gov.uk/en.... I am trying to
ascertain whether there is any third-party intellectual property in the
address information within that dataset that is not covered by the
licence.

Specifically, I am trying to find out:

1. To your knowledge, does the dataset contain any information that is
copyright Royal Mail, or data over which Royal Mail has a database right?

2. To your knowledge, does the dataset contain any information that is
copyright Ordnance Survey, or data over which Ordnance Survey has a
database right?

I appreciate it might be hard to give a clear answer to either of these
questions because they may venture into areas of legal uncertainty (for
example about the extent of Royal Mail's copyright or database rights).
Therefore please answer the following:

1. How was the database behind the published dataset first created,
specifically:

a. Who created it, when, and from what sources?
     b. Was the Postcode Address File from Royal Mail or AddressBase from
Ordnance Survey, or any predecessor products to AddressBase, or any
products incorporating these products, used as a source of addresses when
creating the dataset?
     c. Were any of these products used to check, validate or correct
addresses from another source when the original database was created?

2. How is the database behind the published dataset updated, specifically:

a. What sources of information are used to update the database?
     b. Are updates from Royal Mail or Ordnance Survey used to provide
updates to the database?
     c. Do you check, validate or correct addresses in updates to the
database against either the Postcode Address File from Royal Mail or
AddressBase from Ordnance Survey, or any service that uses those databases
as its source?

3. Have you taken legal advice prior to making this data available under
the Open Government Licence that by doing so you are not infringing
third-party intellectual property rights?

I am submitting this request publicly through WhatDoTheyKnow in order to
ensure that there is a public, referenceable record of your response.

Thank you in advance,

Stuart Harrison

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show quoted sections

Ceri Harnett, Companies House

Dear Mr Harrison
 

Thank you for your request for information which concerns the Companies
House (CH) Free Company Data Product.

 

Firstly I should explain that some of the information you asked for is not
applicable to the approach that CH takes in respect of its Free Data
Product. 

 

CH does not make public information, including the Free Data
Product, available under the Open Government Licence (OGL).

 

CH examines and stores company information delivered under the Companies
Act 2006 and related legislation, and makes this information available to
the public. All this information is made available to searchers pursuant
to s1085 and s1086 of the Companies Act 2006. We accept all information
that companies deliver to us in good faith and place it on the public
record. The fact that the information has been placed on the public record
should not be taken to indicate that CH has verified or validated it in
any way. More specifically with regards to your queries, CH does not
verify information provided by companies with Royal Mail or Ordnance
Survey.

 

Most of the material on the companies register, with the exception of a
small category of material which is exempt from statutory disclosure
requirements, is “public information” that the Registrar of Companies is
under a statutory obligation to make available to the public. Where
information on the register is supplied by a company or someone acting on
its behalf, any copyright in that information belongs to that company (or
its agents). It does not belong to the Registrar. The Registrar supplies
this third party copyright information to customers under authorities
given to him under s47 and s50 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act
1988 and Schedule 1 of the Database Regulations (SI 1997/3032).

 

CH places no restriction on how the information is used, but advises all
customers to take their own legal advice regarding possible breach of
third party copyright.

 

In summary, I have answered your specific questions below:

 

1. To your knowledge, does the dataset contain any information that is
copyright Royal Mail, or data over which Royal Mail has a database right?

 

As explained above, CH does not verify the content of information provided
to the Registrar and any copyright in that information belongs to the
company providing it to the Registrar.

 

2. To your knowledge, does the dataset contain any information that is
copyright Ordnance Survey, or data over which Ordnance Survey has a
database right?

As explained above, any copyright in the information belongs to the
company providing it to the Registrar.

1. How was the database behind the published dataset first created,
specifically:

a. Who created it, when, and from what sources?
b. Was the Postcode Address File from Royal Mail or AddressBase from
Ordnance Survey, or any predecessor products to AddressBase, or any
products incorporating these products, used as a source of addresses when
creating the dataset?
 c. Were any of these products used to check, validate or correct
addresses from another source when the original database was created?

 

The database is created from information provided by companies to CH and,
to reiterate, CH does not verify the content of information provided to
the Registrar.

2. How is the database behind the published dataset updated, specifically:

a. What sources of information are used to update the database?
b. Are updates from Royal Mail or Ordnance Survey used to provide updates
to the database?
c. Do you check, validate or correct addresses in updates to the database
against either the Postcode Address File from Royal Mail or AddressBase
from Ordnance Survey, or any service that uses those databases as its
source?

 

Again, to reiterate, the database is updated from information provided by
companies to CH and CH does not verify the content of information provided
to the Registrar.

 

3. Have you taken legal advice prior to making this data available under
the Open Government Licence that by doing so you are not infringing
third-party intellectual property rights?

 

This question is not relevant, as explained above, CH does not make
public information, including the Free Data Product, available under the
Open Government Licence (OGL).

 

As a result of your enquiry CH has liaised with Data.Gov and changed the
wording on the site to make it clear how CH information is released.

 

I hope that the above information has answered your freedom of information
enquiry, but if you have any queries about this email please contact me.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our response,
you should write to me, within two calendar months of the date of this
email and I will ensure that it is forwarded to a senior member of
Companies House who has had no previous involvement with your enquiry and
who will undertake the review.

 

If you are then not content with the outcome of your review, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by us. The Information Commissioner can be contacted
at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely

 

Ceri Harnett

Information Rights Team

 

 

 

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Bob Harper left an annotation ()

Thought I'd just add a link to Owen Boswarva's excellent blog on this subject 'Does open data need a licence?' http://mapgubbins.tumblr.com/post/111264...

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