In preparation for building our Freedom of Information Filer and Archive, we’re collecting examples of requests you’ve made under FOI, and the respones received. Only send us them if you are happy for them to be published, as we’ll want to put them up on our site during early development. We will remove all obvious personally identifying information, such as your name and address, before doing this. However, before you send anything to us, be sure that you are happy for the body of your request and any response to be made public.
Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. For requests, just copy (CC) request emails you send to our address. If you get any responses, then please forward them to that address. We’d also like to hear about any paper based responses you get. If you scan any in, please send the scans to the address, with and/or without using OCR (“optical character recognition”) software if you have it. Otherwise, a quick email just letting us know you got a paper response to a certain request, and how long it is, would be interesting.
If you have any questions about this, either post a comment below, or email us.
You are welcome to peruse or copy all the FOIA requests and responses published on Spyblog
A few were answered quickly, and in one case more fully than expected e.g.
Most have been a grim battle with bureaucracy. e.g.
You do know that releases made under FOI are still covered by copyright, don’t you? While government departments might not care too much (particularly if you can cover yourselves with a general licence), some “public bodies” can be a little touchy about it – universities in particular, I’ve found.
ISTR there’s some sort of get-out around reporting the news, but you might have a hard time proving that’s what you’re doing if you’re only reprinting the responses verbatim.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a great idea, but I don’t want anyone getting sued over it. Being sensible people I’m sure you’ll make sure you’re covered before work gets too far advanced.
Yes, we’re well aware of that Richard.
You say you’ve found universities to be particularly touchy about copyright of information released under FOI. Can you tell us a bit more about what happened? What documents were they touchy about, and what did they actually do about it?
This was in relation to some financial information a year or so ago – more figures that I’d asked them for than pre-existing documents. Unfortunately I don’t have the responses to hand so I can’t tell you exactly what was said, but in a few of them there were reminders that the information was copyrighted and could not be republished without permission, etc etc.
My intention had been to compile a table using data from various universities, but in the end I didn’t have time.
The DCA’s suggested standard FoI response does include references to the copyright status of released information, so it might not be the universities being specially sensitive. See letter 12 at the website on the link (it’s a pdf).
Were you asking to re-use information in accordance with SI 2005 1515 (re-use of Public Sector Information) or merely for access under FOIA 2000? If the former, there’s a lot of good guidance on OPSI’s website http://www.opsi.gov.uk.
In effect, every PSI application contains implicitly a FOI application, because you obviously cannot re-use information to which you cannot get access. All PSI is Crown or some other public body’s copyright, although it may contain material which was someone else’s copyright.
re the Universities being touchy about copyright, I had a request in to the University of Bath re their plans to build in Swindon and part of the letter replying contained :
“Please note that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not transfer copyright in any information supplied under it. You must, therefore, obtain permission before copying, redistributing or publishing all or part of the information provided.”
My response to this would be to encourage more people to write in to the University asking for the same information as I’ve requested.
I think getting legal advice would make sense here. In the circumstances, my untutored feeling would be that as long as you referred to the information being copyrighted, it would be very hard for any prosecution to establish a loss – the opposite in fact.
The alternative would be to publish all the questions and whether it had received a response, not publishing the reply as such. Then someone repeat the request to the body along with a request asking their persmission to publish on this site.
BTW I think this proposal is a great idea, dunno why the govt. hasn’t done it – not open perhaps?!
I used the 2.x series. I suggest using the latest one even though you are right I prolly just used 2.01.
As for the duplicate error, it may be safe to ignore, it probably just means you have the same ID for a post. You can also clear out the destination table and try again.