Frameworks for Intellectual Property Ownership

Frameworks for Intellectual Property Ownership

New IP frameworks which could give better intellectual property rights to digital media businesses working with public sector organisations are to be tested in a new pilot programme launched by NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.

In June the government announced the need for a new IP rights framework in its Digital Britain report. NESTA has been charged with leading the independent design of the frameworks which it is doing with input from industry, including PACT, and from public sector organisations.

The public sector provides significant investment in the development of online content, services and applications. The IP framework pilot will test whether allowing digital media businesses to keep hold of some or all of their intellectual property when working with the public sector would lead to further revenue streams.

Jon Kingsbury, Director at NESTA, says:

“Digital Britain has offered us an exciting opportunity to objectively test the impact of new commissioning models. This pilot will help us better understand how the public purse might help the growth of the UK’s digital media sector.”

To coincide with the launch, NESTA today publishes six new frameworks for testing models of IP rights ownership which it wants to test with digital media companies who have experience working with public organisations. 

NESTA are keen to hear from digital media agencies on their views and experiences of IP ownership and the perception of working with public organisations.  To take part in a short  survey log on to

The six frameworks, which will be tested during 2010 are as follows:

Framework 1 – The Public Organisation acquires by assignment all rights in material produced under the terms of the commissioning arrangements. The public organisation makes the materials available for re-use and development for all, under standard, non-exclusive terms.

Framework 2 – The Supplier owns and retains all rights to any new stand alone IP they bring to the Public Organisation; the Public Organisation takes an exclusive licence only. Any publicly-owned data will be made available for licence under Crown Copyright.

Framework 3 – The Supplier licences their existing third party rights to the Public Organisation on a non-exclusive basis.

Framework 4 – The Supplier licences their off the shelf technology product to the Public Organisation on a non-exclusive basis.

Framework 5 – The Supplier licences their off the shelf technology product to the Public Organisation on a non-exclusive basis, but the Public Organisation owns (or may take a non-exclusive licence in) the bespoke development which it specifies and pays for.

Framework 6 – The Public Organisation commissions bespoke technology with the explicit goal of making it open-source – i.e. with non-existent copyright restrictions.

Current Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) guidelines state that it is the decision of the commissioning public sector department whether copyright is retained by the producer or by the Crown. Although IP under Crown copyright is made available for re-use by anyone to maximise the potential economic benefit, it appears many departments use IP frameworks that prohibit the re-use of IP. 

The IP frameworks do not apply to the release of public sector open data. To see all six frameworks visit:

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