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Quick NZGOAL guide for users (January 2015)


The New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL) is government guidance for agencies to follow when releasing copyright works and non-copyright material for re-use by others. It seeks to standardise the licensing of government copyright works for re-use using Creative Commons New Zealand law licences and recommends the use of ‘no-known rights’ statements for non-copyright material.


How can NZGOAL help me and how can it help the government?

NZGOAL seeks to foster a culture of sharing of government material for re-use by others. If applied by agencies as expected, it can:

  • help people by enabling them to re-use government material for their own purposes, whether economic, environmental, creative or cultural, in the knowledge they may do so legally; and
  • help government by encouraging experts and others to contribute to improved policy development and more efficient financial performance by government.


What is copyright and why is a licence needed for re-use of government copyright works?

Copyright is a property right that exists in certain original works. In a government context, the most relevant categories are literary works (which can include datasets and databases), artistic works, sound recordings and films. With few exceptions, copyright exists in original works created by government agencies just as it does in original works created by others.

The main exceptions are certain judicial and Parliamentary materials, such as court judgments, legislation and Parliamentary debates (there is no copyright in this material).

A licence (that is, permission) is needed for most re-uses of government copyright works because, without one, a person will infringe copyright in a work when he or she does any of a number of ‘restricted acts’. The most common restricted act is copying the work or a substantial part of it.

Copying less than a substantial part will not amount to copyright infringement, but once the ‘substantial part’ threshold is reached (and it can be reached quite easily) a licence is required for re-use (e.g., copying, republishing and adaptations).


What’s a ‘Creative Commons licence’?

Creative Commons licences are freely available copyright licences that enable the sharing of copyright works for re-use in a standardised way and in forms that are human, machine and lawyer readable. Creative Commons is an international organisation with affiliate organisations around the world. Information on the New Zealand affiliate organisation can be found at

There are six different Creative Commons licences. NZGOAL states that, unless a restriction applies, agencies should make useful copyright works available for re-use using the most open (i.e., the most permissive) form of Creative Commons licence.

The most open licence is the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) licence. If a work is licensed with this licence, you are free to copy, distribute and adapt the work, as long as you attribute the work to its source and abide by the other licence terms.


Do I need to sign anything?

No. The owner of a copyright work can attach a description of the selected licence to the work that tells people how they may re-use the work. People are then able to act in accordance with the permissions in the selected licence without having to sign anything with the agency.


How does NZGOAL apply to non-copyright material?

Non-copyright material can include out-of-copyright images and material in which, by law, there is no copyright (because, for example, it doesn’t reach the threshold requirement of originality). NZGOAL encourages agencies to release such material for re-use with ‘no-known rights’ statements which make it clear that there is no copyright-related restriction on re-use of the material. No licence is required for the re-use of such material.


Will my personal information held by government remain protected?

Yes, it will. NZGOAL does not apply to information or works containing personal information. It also provides guidance on anonymising datasets which, once stripped of personal information, might be licensed or released for re-use.


What about software?

NZGOAL does also not apply to software, the main reason being that Creative Commons does not recommend the use of its licences for software (preferring, instead, various open source software licences).


What’s the relationship between NZGOAL and

NZGOAL is government guidance, endorsed by Cabinet, that encourages agencies to release useful material for re-use and explains how to do so in a legally correct manner. is a directory of publicly-available, non-personal New Zealand government datasets.

When releasing a dataset for re-use, logically an agency should first apply NZGOAL to the dataset and, assuming there is no barrier to release and re-use, apply the licence (if the dataset is a copyright work) or no-known rights statement (if it is not) to the dataset.

Once it has done that, it is then able to list the dataset on and, in doing so, specify the correct licensing or other re-use rights position that it has already arrived at.


How can I ask an agency to release material for re-use in accordance with NZGOAL?

You can approach the agency directly or seek assistance from the Department of Internal Affairs via If you are seeking the release for re-use of a dataset, you can also now make a dataset release request on


Last updated 30 March 2016