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Government entities make information they create available to the public in various ways: online subject to terms of use, by removing copyright and related rights, through government policy and regulation, through the use of custom licenses, via freedom of information laws, informally via norms, through the use of CC licenses and public domain tools, and through other means. By using CC licenses and tools to communicate broad reuse rights to the content, data, and educational materials they create, governments are stimulating economic growth, promoting citizen engagement, and increasing the transparency of government resources and services.


Three of the largest sources of Australian government data sets—the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Geoscience Australia and—are available by default under a CC Attribution license. Together these sites provide free access to all of Australia’s census data, official geoscientific information and knowledge, and other miscellaneous government data. Most recently, the government committed to open access and has since distributed the national budget and other reports under CC licenses.


The Netherlands government recently launched, a single website for all Dutch ministries. The site’s default copyright policy is to remove all copyright restrictions with the CC0 public domain waiver. This means the content is available without any restrictions to the extent possible under law.

United States

Although works by the U.S. federal government are automatically part of the public domain, such works may or may not be in the public domain in other jurisdictions. The U.S. government has taken further steps towards openness by requiring that third-party content posted on be made available via a CC Attribution license. In addition, Aneesh Chopra, the first Federal Chief Technology Officer of the U.S., has gone on record stating that CC licenses have directly informed his perspective on how intellectual property should be accessed, shared, and reused. The U.S. has also issued a $2 billion grant program for education, requiring that all resources created using the funds be released under CC Attribution.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing (NZGOAL) framework provides guidance for State Services agencies on how to release public sector information. NZGOAL promotes the licensing of government copyrighted works using CC Attribution and recommends the use of ‘no-known rights’ statements for non-copyrighted material. The framework recognizes that “re-use of this material by individuals and organizations may have significant creative and economic benefit for New Zealand.” Since NZGOAL, many government works have been released under CC licenses.

Presidential Sites

In addition to the U.S. White House, various presidential websites around the world have adopted CC licenses for its content, including the official presidential websites of Armenia, Bulgaria, Mexico, South Korea and the Russian Federation.

Government Case Studies

As part of our Case Studies project, we have started a wiki page to reference known government uses of CC licensing and public domain tools. Uses range from national and federal uses to state and provincial, to local, city, and county governments, as well as intergovernmental bodies such as the European Union and United Nations. Take a look and help us contribute to the growing number of government use cases.

Intergovernmental Organizations

Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are also using CC to share research, data, and educational materials they produce. IGOs realize they can benefit greatly from the use of Creative Commons licenses—maximizing the impact of their resources and efforts. Learn about some of the benefits for IGOs that choose to publish content under CC licenses and access case studies of IGOs already using CC at our wiki.

Learn More

Government licensing frameworks are an increasingly popular means by which governments describe their objectives and identify the public licenses under which they will be releasing public sector information (PSI). For PSI we recommend using Creative Commons tools that do not include the NoDerivatives or Noncommercial terms, in line with the Open Knowledge Foundation’s definition of open government data and content.

Additional resources

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