Wednesday, August 18, 2010

UK redevelops legislative database to support and encourage reuse

Brought to my attention by Mia Garlick via Twitter, the UK has redeveloped its legislative database with a focus on reuse by external parties.

The recently released site covers 800 years of legislation from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

According to an article from Cornell University Law School,, John Sheridan, Head of e-Services and Strategy at The National Archives says that the site was designed to meet two objectives,
to deliver a high quality public service for people who need to consult, cite, and use legislation on the Web; and to expose the UK’s Statute Book as data, for people to take, use, and re-use for whatever purpose or application they wish.
The Crown Copyright for the site specifies that,
You are encouraged to use and re-use the information that is available on this site freely and flexibly, with only a few conditions.

This type of approach makes legislation vastly more accessible to the public and, through an API provided by the site, supports the development of applications and services that assist the public, organisations and lawyers to understand and apply the law.

More information on why and how the site was designed is available in the article referenced above.

Australia isn't yet at the same point. Our legislation, detailed at Comlaw, is not yet supported through APIs or other machine-readable data formats and is covered under a more restrictive licensing regime,
This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved.

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