Skip to content

Quick NZGOAL guide for agencies (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. 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.


NZGOAL’s purpose

  • NZGOAL enables people to re-use government material for their own purposes, whether economic, environmental, creative or cultural, in the knowledge they may do so legally; and
  • encourages experts and others to contribute to improved policy development and more efficient financial performance by government through being able to access, manipulate and provide feedback on such material.


Agencies to which NZGOAL applies

NZGOAL applies to State Services agencies. A full list of State Services agencies can be found on the State Services Commission’s website.


Material to which NZGOAL applies

NZGOAL applies to both copyright works and non-copyright material.

Copyright works can include geospatial datasets, commissioned research reports, scientific datasets, collections of official statistics, datasets on government performance (financial and otherwise), photographic images, educational resources and archive film. In each case, a work is only a copyright work if it meets the law’s threshold of originality and, if it does, the period of copyright has not expired (which in some cases may be relevant to old government-held works).

Non-copyright material can include out-of-copyright images and material in which, by law, there is no copyright. For example, there is no copyright in most of the country’s legislation.

NZGOAL does not apply to information or works containing personal information, except for its guidance on anonymising datasets which, once stripped of personal information, might be licensed or released. NZGOAL does also not apply to software.


How it works

The NZGOAL Policy Principles state the government’s position on a number of issues that commonly arise in the context of agencies releasing material for re-use. They guide agencies on decisions that are required when releasing material. They address, among other things, issues relating to open licensing, open access, creativity, authenticity, non-discrimination, open formats and charging.

The key Policy Principles are the Open Licensing and Open Access Principles. The Open Licensing Principle states that State Services agencies should make their copyright works which are or may be of interest or use to people available online for re-use on the most open of licensing terms within NZGOAL – the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) licence – unless a restriction applies.

If a restriction applies, it may be appropriate to select an alternative Creative Commons licence or not release the material openly for re-use at all. Similarly, for non-copyright material, the Open Access Principle states that agencies should provide public online access to non-copyright material that is or may be of interest to people, using a ‘no-known rights’ statement, unless a restriction applies.

To help agencies with the legal and practical issues that arise when releasing copyright and non-copyright material for re-use, NZGOAL provides a seven stage Review and Release Process covering copyright-related rights evaluations, evaluations of restrictions, the selection of re-use rights (whether a licence for copyright material or a no-known rights statement for non-copyright material), how to apply one’s selected licence or no-known rights statement, moral rights checks, format selection and release.

Download a quick reference of the licence and elements [PDF 151 KB]


Relationship with is a directory of publicly-available, non-personal New Zealand government datasets. It links to datasets held on other government websites.

NZGOAL recommends that material released for re-use be released, in the first instance, on the agency’s own website. If the relevant work is a dataset, NZGOAL also prompts the releasing agency to announce the release on

When listing a dataset on, the releasing agency must specify the re-use rights for the dataset it is releasing. It is important to note that these rights will have been applied following the analysis set out in NZGOAL. is not the place to apply a licence to your work for the first time.


NZGOAL’s status

NZGOAL is government guidance approved by Cabinet. Cabinet has:

  • directed all Public Service departments;
  • invited the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Defence Force, the Parliamentary Counsel Office, and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service;
  • agreed that other State Services agencies (other than school boards of trustees) be strongly encouraged; and
  • invited the Minister of Education to invite school boards of trustees,


  • familiarise themselves with NZGOAL, in its current form and as may be updated from time to time; and
  • take NZGOAL into account when releasing copyright material and non-copyright material to the public for re-use.


Last updated 13 June 2017