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Immaterialgüter- und Wettbewerbsrecht

A Comparative Study on the Free Use Policies of Public Works

In many countries, work created by the government can be used freely unless the work falls under the exception. However, the policy has had a few side effects in Korea and such cases could arise in other countries as well. Thus, a way of improving the public works policy needs to be figured out.

Last Update: 05.11.20

In compliance with free use policies like Public Sector Information (PSI) and Open Government Data (OGD), most of the work generated by the government is made accessible and available without permission in many countries: the Crown copyright in the United Kingdom, the U.S. government works in the United States, and the Official works in Germany. In Korea, Copyright Act Article 24-2 has also enabled so-called “public works” owned by the government to be freely available and the Korea Open Government License (KOGL) was introduced for users to recognize public works easily. However, the public works policy has had unintended consequences in Korea. One of the recent issues is the controversy surrounding the commercial publication of research papers or academic resources released by government entities. That is because some publishers publish those materials in their original form without any addition or modification and then sell them for a high price. The other issue is that existing legislations in terms of public data and public works are not fully compatible despite the overlap of the conceptual scope. According to the Korea Act on Promotion of the Provision and Use of Public Data, public data describes the digitized information that is produced by the government. In other words, if such information contains elements of creativity and thus can be copyrighted, it is categorized as public work as well. The question is which legislation should be applied to the intersection now that different licenses and conditions of use are applicable, depending on what the information is regarded as.

Apart from these issues, there are further issues to discuss. Such could be whether foreigners can exploit other countries’ public works, if public work needs to retain moral rights, and if a separate license is necessary in spite of existence of the Creative Commons License. Considering the relation with the other policies, issues in public works policy should be reviewed within the framework of the OGD and PSI, since the concept of free use strives to bring each policy together as one. For instance, the lately adopted the ‘Directive on open data and the re-use of public sector information’ (Directive 2019/1024) in the EU comprehensively handles the OGD along with the PSI, including copyright of them. Besides, in the UK, the Open Government License (OGL) developed for making the Crown copyright freely available is applied to the OGD and PSI as well. Furthermore, ‘The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015’ regulating the PSI in the UK can also be partially applied to the OGD and Crown copyright. Therefore, this project compares Korea Copyright Act Article 24-2 to other countries’ copyright law, examining how public works are involved in the OGD and PSI policy in detail. As a result, it is suggested how the public works policy should be improved to resolve side effects and harmonize with the free use policies.


Project Manager

Kim Kwangsik 


Main Areas of Research

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