2012 really seems to be the year of big royal anniversaries. Hot on the heels of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, July marks the centenary of Crown copyright. It was in 1912 that that the Copyright Act of 1911 came into force and the concept of Crown copyright first made an appearance on the statute books.
The phrase ‘Crown copyright’ probably conjures up shelves of Royal Decrees and ancient parchments gathering dust in government archives. Although that is partly the case – except that the archives at Kew are in pristine condition and are anything but dusty or fusty – Crown copyright covers a wealth of government documents, both published and unpublished, produced by ministers and civil servants. So the term encompasses a huge wealth of documents including the Highway Code, Ordnance Survey maps, weather charts produced by the Met Office, government reports, government statistics and most information published on government websites. It also covers minutes written by government ministers and civil servants. This article, indeed, is covered by Crown copyright.