Public Sector Information (PSI) and Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015

The PSI Directive is a European open data policy intended to encourage the availability, circulation and re-use of documents generated and stored by public institutions, for private or commercial purposes, with minimal constraints. It takes its form in UK law as the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (the PSI Regulations).

Introduction to the PSI Regulations

The PSI Regulations regulate the re-use of documents created, stored and disseminated by public institutions in the UK in the course of fulfilling their public task. The PSI Regulations are based on the principles of fair, transparent, consistent and non-discriminatory access.

What is re-use?

Re-use is the use of a document for a purpose other than the initial purpose within a public institution's public task for which it was produced.

What is a document?

For the purposes of PSI, a document is any collection of information or data in any form, including print, visual, digital, electronic and sound recordings.

What is a public institution's public task?

A public institution's public task is a description of the institution's core aims, functions and responsibilities as determined either by law or custom.

Are all documents created, stored or disseminated by a public institution available for re-use?

No. Only documents that are created, stored or disseminated in order to fulfil a public institution's public task are under the scope of PSI.

There are additional restrictions to the documents that will be available for re-use. Some of the exclusions to PSI are:

  • Documents which contain third-party intellectual property (that is, where the relevant copyright is not owned by the public institution).
  • Logos, trademarks and crests or insignia, or documents containing only those.
  • Documents containing information that is protected under data protection legislation or exempt from disclosure within the Freedom of Information Act.

The British Museum and the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015

As a public cultural sector body in the UK, the British Museum is under the scope of the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015. This means that the majority of documents the British Museum creates, stores or disseminates in order to fulfil its public task will be available for re-use.

What is the British Museum's public task?

You may read the British Museum's statement of public task here.

What documents are available for re-use and how can they be requested?

You may find a summarised list of the categories of documents the Museum has available for re-use, as well as information on how to request them, here (PDF 94KB). Please note this list is not exhaustive. We are working to make more of our documents available for re-use and may update this list as more documents become available. If you have any questions regarding the re-use of documents that aren't listed under this section, please contact us at permissions@britishmuseum.org Requests for re-use should be submitted in writing and, when possible, via email to the addresses provided. Your request should include the following information: your name and address for correspondence (it can be an email address), the document you are requesting and the purpose for which you intend to re-use it. The Museum will endeavour to respond to your requests for re-use within 20 working days of submission.

Will the Museum always make documents available for re-use?

No. The Museum will not make available for re-use the documents that fall outside the scope of PSI (exclusions listed above and here (PDF 94KB)).

In addition, as a public cultural sector body, the Museum has the right to decline a request if it deems the intended use of the document unsuitable or inappropriate, or when the document contains culturally sensitive information. The Museum also has the right to decline a request for re-use of any document, so long as we have not used it for a similar purpose, or allowed an external party to use it for a similar purpose.

As a cultural sector body, the Museum also has the right to apply conditions of re-use and charge fees for certain re-uses. For information about the the fees the Museum charges for different types of document, please contact us at permissions@britishmuseum.org.

When you contact us to request re-use of a document you may be asked to complete a form detailing the characteristics of the re-use. We require the information to determine which conditions need to be applied and if any fees need to be charged. Please complete these forms carefully and provide as much detail as you can.

Appeals and complaints procedure

If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received from the Museum regarding a request to re-use a document, or the conditions applied to such re-use, you may submit a formal appeal. The appeal should be submitted in writing and, when possible, by email to permissions@britishmuseum.org Your complaint will be reviewed in the first instance by the Museum's Rights Manager. You will receive an initial response within 20 days of submission.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the first review, you can request for your complaint to be reviewed by the Museum's Legal Department. The outcome of this second stage will be communicated to you by email within 20 days of submission.

Should you be dissatisfied with the outcome of the second review, you may seek independent review from the Information Commissioner. Requests for review by the Information Commissioner should be made in writing directly to:

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Exclusive arrangements

In the public interest, the British Museum has exclusive arrangements in relation to the following activities:

  • Book publishing
  • Image licensing in select countries

Further inquiries about these arrangements can be made here: permissions@britishmuseum.org.

Further information

If you need any further information about the re-use of British Museum documents under the Public Sector Information Directive, please contact us here: permissions@britishmuseum.org.