Australia goes Creative Commons

Jessica Coates, Project Manager for Creative Commons Australia emailed some important news from CC Australia. The Australian government has now decided to use the Creative Commons BY license as a default for public sector information.

In an official response released yesterday, the Federal Government has agreed to 12 of the 13 recommendations to come out of the Government 2.0 Taskforce report released last December – including Recommendation 6.3, which states that Creative Commons Attribution should be the default licensing position for PSI.

In addition, the government has also agreed that the new Information Commissioner currently being established will issue guidelines to ensure that:

  • by default PSI is free, open, and reusable;
  • PSI is released as quickly as possible;
  • PSI may only be withheld where there is a legal obligation preventing its release.
  • when Commonwealth records become available for public access under the Archives Act 1983, works covered by Crown copyright will be automatically licensed under an appropriate open attribution licence.

The response also includes an undertaking that the Attorney-General’s Department will examine the current state of copyright law with regard to orphan works (including section 200AB of the Copyright Act 1968), with the aim of recommending amendments that would remove the practical restrictions that currently impede the use of such works.

This is the single biggest commitment to CC licensing and open access principles by Australian government, and should mean that the majority of Australian government material will soon be available under a CC licence. The fact that both the response and the announcement have been released under CC BY is a good start.

The assignment of responsibility for implementation of the commitment to the new Information Commissioner is also an encouraging move, and will hopefully see a more coordinated approach to IP policy across the Australian government as a whole.

The response is available here and a blog post from Finance Minister Tanner is available here.

Jessica just emailed an update:

Having read the report more thoroughly, the Australian Federal Government has committed to open access, but its statement re CC licensing is more properly described as an “agreement in principle”, with an undertaking that the IP Guidelines to be developed as part of the response will not “impede the default open licensing position proposed in recommendation 6.3.”

However, the report, the announcement and the entire AGIMO blog are all under a CC BY licence, which seems like a good sign. The response also makes much of the National Government Information Licensing Framework (GILF) as an important tool in assisting government agencies in making information licensing decisions. GILF, a collaborative project between the Queensland Government and the Queensland University of Technology which is recognised internationally as a leader in the area, recommended and endorsed the use of CC licences as the core of its framework for the sharing of PSI.

You can find a fuller description of the Government’s Gov 2.0 response on the CCau blog at