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Case Study (2013): Canada’s Open Government Licence

One of the major goals of the Government of Canada’s open government work has been to support a more seamless end-user experience. We have found that users want government information, especially data, but do not want to have to deal with different departments to find it, or a multitude of different restrictions on the use of data depending on from which department it originates. Accordingly, we set out to establish one common licence to cover the use of all open data regardless of where it originates within the government. This was the challenge we originally set out to address.

In April, 2012, Canada tabled its Action Plan on Open Government at the Open Government Partnership meeting in Brasilia. The Plan contained 12 commitments for fostering greater openness and accountability in the federal Government of Canada, including a specific commitment to developing a new Open Government Licence. The goal of this commitment was to remove restrictions on the reuse of published Government of Canada information (data, info, websites, and publications), aligning better with international best practices for licensing. Various licences in use to this point were inconsistent, contained restrictive clauses, and were written in language only a lawyer could understand.

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