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Public Sector Information: to share or not to share?

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The public sector bodies and public undertakings in Member States collect, produce, reproduce and disseminate a wide range of information in many areas of activity, such as social, political, economic and legal areas. Such public sector information represents an extraordinary source of data that can contribute to improving the internal market and to the development of new applications for consumers and legal entities.

In order to ensure fair, proportionate and non-discriminatory conditions for the re-use of such information by consumers and businesses, EU legislation provides for a general framework regarding the conditions governing re-use of public sector documents. This EU legislation consists of the PSI directives (PSI I, PSI II and PSI III, i.e. the “Open Data directive”).

On the basis of these PSI directives, public sector information must be made available to the public for re-use, preferably in an open format, which means that it can be freely used, re-used and shared by anyone for any purpose (so-called “open data”). This obligation to share public sector information covers all existing documents held by public sector bodies or public undertakings inside the scope of their public tasks. However, some exceptions to this general rule are applicable, for example regarding:

  • Documents for which third parties hold intellectual property rights;
  • Documents containing trade secrets;
  • Documents containing personal data;
  • ...

For more information on this topic, specialised advice or questions, you may always contact Sarah van den Brande(s.vandenbrande@liedekerke.com) or Emmelien Rientjes (e.rientjes@liedekerke.com).