Digital data licensing and resellers

BGS Information Hub

The BGS is committed to making its vast collections of environmental data and information products publicly available, where possible. Please refer to the UKRI-NERC policy on licensing and charging for further information, including an explanation of the difference between ‘environmental data’ and ‘information products’.

Wherever possible we supply our environmental data at no cost under the Open Government Licence.

Our information products are usually made available under the terms of a BGS digital data licence and may be subject to payment of a licence fee. Where we charge a licence fee for our information products, we operate our pricing and licensing policy in a fair and transparent way in line with the UKRI-NERC policy on licensing and charging.

Quick links

What data is available?

Please use the data search service to search our full catalogue of datasets, including open data and licensed data products. The datasets page also provides all BGS data that are approved for license to external parties.

For more information about our open data please see our OpenGeoscience page. It provides a wide range of freely available geoscience information, including data, and is made available under the terms of the Open Government Licence.

BGS data resellers

BGS data supplied to a data reseller partner (DRP) may only be used for the development, marketing and supply of the products or services defined in the specific data reseller agreement. Any other use of the BGS’s datasets is catered for under the usual licensing arrangements.

  • Fishing Win

Which BGS licence do you need?

If you are interested in an information product and the Open Government Licence is not applicable, we encourage the use and exploitation of our information products by providing a wide range of licences.

In line with the UKRI-NERC policy on licencing and charging for information, the BGS will usually provide access to its digital data resources under a fee-free academic data licence to assist academics with their academic teaching and research, with only a couple of exceptions:

  • if academic research is sponsored by a profit-making/commercial organisation that would directly benefit from the results of the research
  • if academic research is undertaken as a result of funding secured by a competitive bidding or tender exercise that is not limited to the academic community

Download an academic data licence application form

Notes

Bear in mind that many BGS resources are now made publicly available under the BGS’s dataset offering. If the information you require is available under that offering and if your proposed usage is covered by the terms under which the information is made available (usually the Open Government Licence) there will be no need to apply for a separate BGS data licence, but please check the terms applicable to the specific information of interest to you.

Please try to be specific about your data requirements. We will not ordinarily issue licences to cover entire BGS digital dataset(s), unless such use can be justified within the contexts of the specific research being undertaken. So, if you have a defined geographic study area of interest and/or you know which particular BGS digital datasets you need to use, please advise us of this as soon as possible so that we can ensure that your licence is activated as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are always happy to work with you to refine data requests as part of the licence application process, but as a first step you may wish to consult our products pages to get a better idea of the specific data products available.

The data may already be available to your institution via the EDINA Geology Digimap, based at the University of Edinburgh, without the need for you to obtain a data licence from the BGS. Please check if your institution subscribes to this offering before you apply for a BGS data licence. If your institution does not subscribe and/or the data you want is not included in the offering, then you can contact us for a BGS academic data licence.

A BGS academic data licence will normally run for the course of your research project and will be limited to your use on that project. Please be sure to advise us if use by colleagues on the same project will be required, so that we can include this additional use on the licence documentation to ensure that all proposed use is covered under the licence.

BGS data licence documentation needs to be signed by someone authorised on behalf of the licensee institution. If you are a student, this will normally be a tutor, supervisor or other member of staff within your institution. Please bear in mind that you will need to advise that person of your intention to secure BGS data under licence and get them to sign your licence documentation before the BGS can supply you with the data you want.

Companies and other commercial organisations with an interest in reselling BGS data or developing value-added products and services based on BGS data can apply to become a data reselling partner (DRP). This business arrangement allows organisations with the appropriate expertise and business knowledge to meet user requirements in niche markets, especially those that the BGS does not intend to address directly. It expands the use of BGS data into new markets by broadening and deepening the user base. It also provides the opportunity for the reuse of public-sector information for commercial purposes.

BGS data supplied to a DRP may only be used for the development, marketing and supply of the products or services defined in the specific data reseller agreement. Any other use of the BGS’s datasets is catered for under usual licencing arrangements.

Access to BGS data for product or service evaluation purposes, prior to becoming a DRP, is possible through a data exploration licence. These agreements permit testing and evaluation of samples of BGS data by the signatory on an internal basis only. BGS datasets being considered by the signatory for incorporation in commercial products or services will then be made available under a data reseller agreement.

In exceptional circumstances the BGS will allow its data to be used completely without charge where there is emergency or civil contingency incident.

These are short-term licences and are strictly restricted to responding to the emergency or civil contingency incident.

To request a licence please email the digital data team.

License templates

Emergency use licence

Please be aware that the templates are provided solely in order to give guidance as to the kind of terms and conditions under which the BGS may release its digital materials. Individual arrangements may vary, dependent upon the particular end-user requirements and the materials being released.

We do not sell our digital mapping data to external parties. Instead, we grant external parties a licence to use this data, subject to certain standard terms and conditions. In general (with the exception of academic use), a licence fee will be payable based on the type and geographical extent of data, the number of users, and the duration (years) of a licence.

If you wish to licence BGS digital data, you will be required to return a signed digital data licence document to us before authorisation for release of BGS digital data to you is given.

Download a digital data licence application form

Conditions for supply of digital data

The following general comments are for guidance only and you must refer to the terms of your BGS digital data licence to ascertain the terms and conditions applicable to your usage of the BGS data licensed to you.

In general terms, you will be permitted to:

  • make internal use of the dataset(s)
  • allow a specified number of internal users to access or use the data (the number of users will be agreed with you and specified in the licence document) for the purposes of your day-to-day internal activities
  • reproduce extracts from the data up to A3 for use in external analogue (paper or hard copy) or non-queryable electronic (e.g. secured .pdf) format
  • to meet a public-task duty
  • to fulfil a statutory requirement
  • as part of academic or other non-commercial research

But you will not be permitted to:

  • provide a bureau service for others or incorporate the data in the generation of products or services for commercial purposes
  • sell, assign, sublicence, rent, lend or otherwise transfer (any part of) the dataset(s) or the licence
  • place (any part of) the dataset(s) on the internet

Notes

The BGS is committed to ensuring that all the digital data it holds that is released to external parties under licence has been through a robust internal approval process, to ensure that geoscientific standards and corporate quality-assurance standards are maintained. This approval process is intended to ensure that all data released:

  • is quality assured
  • meets agreed BGS data management standards
  • is not in breach of any third-party intellectual property rights or other contractual issues (such as confidentiality issues) that would mean that release of the data is not appropriate

When the BGS digital datasets(s) you license is/are revised, any relevant updates will be supplied to you as a BGS data licensee at no additional cost. Because geological map datasets are revised on a periodic rather than an annual basis, you will not necessarily receive a new dataset each year unless changes have been made to the data.

If you have any doubts about whether your proposed use of BGS data will be covered by a BGS digital licence, the digital licencing team will be happy to discuss this with you. We will usually be able to provide reassurance that the licence will cover your individual user requirements and/or may be able to include additional ‘special conditions’ in the licence documentation, addressing specific requirements (whilst always aiming to maintain our requirement to treat all of our data licensees consistently and fairly).

In some cases a Letter of Undertaking (LoU) will be used instead of a BGS data licence. An LoU is used to cover BGS data that has not yet been approved for licencing, but where there are no external IPR concerns that would mean the data are not suitable for external release. The terms of the LoU make it clear that the materials being provided may not have been subjected to current BGS standards of scrutiny and approval and are provided ‘as is’.

Licence templates

Please be aware that the templates are provided solely in order to give guidance as to the kind of terms and conditions under which the BGS may release its digital materials. Individual arrangements may vary, dependent upon the particular end-user requirements and the materials being released.

The BGS encourages the use of its information for the development of commercial applications and products by any individual or organisation. To promote this, the BGS offers data exploration licences that allow you to evaluate BGS data and use it in the development stages of a commercial innovation. There is usually no fee to pay during the agreed evaluation period, although an alternative fee-bearing arrangement such as an internal business-use licence or data reseller licence will be required once the development stage is complete, which will allow you to use or commercialise the end product.

License template

BGS data exploration licence (html & PDF available)

Please be aware that the template is provided solely in order to give guidance as to the kind of terms and conditions under which the BGS may release its digital materials. Individual arrangements may vary, dependent upon the particular end-user requirements and the materials being released.

BGS data user group

The BGS has set up a data user group to help steer and evaluate new and existing data products. The programme enables us to consult a wide range of consumers of both our commercial and open data products, who then influence and assist us in developing new products that are relevant to our user community.

We are always happy to have new members of this group and welcome any interest. If you are keen to get involved, preview early releases of data and have an opportunity to influence product development then please contact the digital licensing team.

Use of BGS data for charities

BGS encourages the use of its data for charitable purposes, where the use is for the public benefit and not for commercial gain. For such charitable work, BGS will, therefore, make its data available without charge except where:

  • There are additional third party constraints
  • A request is large and/or complex (evaluated by BGS on a case-by-case basis)
  • The charitable institution requesting data is competing for funding under a competitive tender.
  • BGS data has been developed from commercial funding (with no recourse to public funds).

To support this flexible approach and to ensure that data provided for charitable work is used appropriately and not for commercial gain, BGS will require institutions using BGS information for charitable purposes to:

  • Confirm they are a registered charity or, if not required to be registered, that they satisfy the definition of a ‘charity’ in the Charities Act;
  • Agree to licence terms and conditions binding the institution to use the data solely for public benefit;
  • Acknowledge or cite BGS, UKRI and other intellectual property right holders when it uses the data;
  • Clearly explain the use to which the data will be put, to enable BGS to evaluate whether a request is reasonable, particularly when it appears large and/or complex.

Download a digital data licence application form.

Apply for a data licence

You can apply for a BGS digital data licence by downloading the digital data licence application form 181KB doc. Please email the completed form to our Licensing team at iprdigital@bgs.ac.uk.

Alternatively, if you know what data you want you can get a quote and apply for a licence online.

The key areas addressed by the form are:

  • Which geographical area(s) of which BGS dataset(s) are required, and in which format do you want to receive them (e.g. ESRI, or MapInfo)?
  • What will you be using the data for?
  • How long do you want the licence to run? (Please note that our minimum standard licence term is 12 months.)
  • Will any third parties need to have access to the BGS data — e.g. contractors (we have a ‘complementary licence’ system to cater for use of data by a licensee’s contractors).

Get in touch

For direct enquiries about the Licensing process (and licence applications) please email the digital licensing team.

Customer feedback and complaints

View our customer feedback and complaints procedures.

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