Topic Report No. 10: PSI Re-use in France: Overview and Recent Developments

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Topic Report No. 10: PSI Re-use in France: Overview and Recent Developments

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About this Report


This report summarises the current situation and recent developments in France on the re-use of public sector information (PSI). Similar to other European countries, the French situation is under development and changing quickly due to many influences. There is increasing awareness by the public sector and community of the value of public sector information from economic, political and social perspectives. This theme is supported by new actors becoming involved in actively engaging in issues and promoting open data involving clusters of local authorities and citizen based organisations. APIE, Agence du patrimoine immatériel de l’État, (Agency for Public Intangibles of France) is engaged in PSI issues and policy development related to licensing, pricing and access, as well as co-ordinating the planning of a data portal. By the end of the year, a style portal will be implemented by the French Government.


France PSI re-use, Licences, Repositories, Pricing, open data community, French PSI Data Portal

About the Author

Ruth Martinez is the General Delegate of GFII (Groupement Français de l’Industrie de l’Information), an association composed of public and private players in the field of professional information. Over the years, GFII has contributed to the discussions regarding the re-use of public information and transposition of the European PSI Directive in France. Given its composition which includes public bodies and private companies, GFII’s position reflects a mutual approach of all the actors of the national information sector. Moreover, GFII contributions try to keep a fair balance between citizen access to public sector information, while at the same time encouraging information providers to develop their markets.


© 2010 European PSI Platform - This document and all material therein has been compiled with great care; however, the author, editor and/or publisher and/or any party within the European PSI Platform or its predecessor projects the ePSIplus Network project or ePSINet consortium cannot be held liable in any way for the consequences of using the content of this document and/or any material referenced therein. This report has been published under the auspices of the European Public Sector Information Platform.

The report may be reproduced providing acknowledgement is made to the European Public Sector Information (PSI) Platform.

The European Public Sector Information (PSI) Platform is funded under the European Commission eContentplus programme.


The European PSI Directive 2003/98/EC[1] was implemented into French law by texts very similar to the Directive: ordnance June 6th 2005 and decree December 30th 2005 which modify the law of July 17th 1978 concerning the improvement of the relationship between administration and citizens. On May 29th 2006, the Prime Minister's circular noted the obligations of this new law which specified the aims as economic development: the nomination of public representatives responsible for the re-use of public information, the setting up of repositories ensuring the availability of key public sector information, the definition of standard licences, and the analysis of licences with exclusive rights[2].


The French organisations in charge of Public Sector Information


The mission of the organisation, Access Commission to Administrative Documents[3] (CADA, Commission d'accès aux documents administratifs) was redefined by the new laws. CADA now makes recommendations when there is a conflict between a private company and a public information producer or gives advice when a public producer, who receives a re-use demand, asks for help. This commission received very few questions about re-use (only 5% in 2009). All the answers were favourable to the re-users.


Following the implementation of the PSI Directive into French law and after the issue of a report on the "intangible economy", the Government set up an agency to optimise the impact of the State's intangible assets and to co-ordinate work among French Government Ministries, as well as to support the administrative services in terms of management of their intangible assets. This organisation APIE[4], Agence du patrimoine immatériel de l’État (Agency for Public Intangibles of France), was created on the 23rd of April 2007. APIE has actively participated in European forums and events such as for example: the European Commission’s PSI Group[5] and the 9 June 2010 meeting: Realising the Value of Public Sector Information[6] held in Madrid and co-sponsored by the Spanish PSI Information service, Proyecto Aporta and the European Public Sector Information Platform.

Ministry of State to the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Forward Planning, Assessment of Public Policies and Development of the Digital Economy

The Development Plan for the Digital Economy France Numérique 2012 [7] published in October 2008 mentioned the importance of licences to clarify the conditions for re-use. In September 2009, during the seminar on the Digital society: "Investing today for growth tomorrow", the Prime Minister François Fillon defined the economic purpose of re-use: "The state, beyond its duty to transparency through the Internet, must (…) allow the creation of services and therefore value from public data gathered and made available to the citizens and companies".

Creation of COEPIA

The Guidance Council[8] of public publishing and information was established by Decree on the 11th January 2010, under the initiative of the Prime Minister. It has evaluation, expertise and advice functions in the following areas.

  • Public publishing and administrative publications
  • Public Information
  • Availability of public data

The council ensures the proper allocation of resources and quality of service rendered to the users. COEPIA members are high ranking civil servants and representatives from the private sector (GFII, French Publishers Association- SNE).

[5] or


Some Licences are available on the websites of the main public government data producers:

APIE Licences

APIE has developed two standard licensing models[9] for the re-use of public sector information (information with updating or not). The obligations of the re-users are on the reliability of data they wish to repost: with no alteration, no distortion of the data as well as providing information about the source and date of latest update of the data used. APIE also helps administrations to implement licences with pricing.

Ministry of Justice Licence

During April 2010, the Ministry of Justice published a licence[10] "Public Information freely re-usable Licence". This new licence specifies the legal conditions for the re-use of public sector information that is freely re-usable. It particularly specifies the rights to adapt the public information with a view to a commercial activity or not. It is aimed at facilitating the re-use of public sector information in the context of the development of the information society.

The Licensee commits to indicating the source as well as the update ‘date’ of information without these excerpts being possibly interpreted as any kind of guarantee given by the conceding party. The re-using is free of charge and does not necessitate any payment to the conceding party by the Licensee, including when it concerns the commercial use of the public sector information, whenever it is commercialized after new treatments and in a new product or service for the third-parties. The re-using, commercial or not, shall be done by the Licensee: he shall not act as intermediary and resell the public information as is to a third-party for commercialization.

The licensee is authorised to concede sub-licences, commercial or not, on re-used public sector information when they are treated afresh and they are included in a new product or service. Integral, free and without value-added re-accessibility of re-used public information to third-parties is forbidden, unless it is made under this current licence or expressly authorised by the licensor.

Response to this new licence by the French PSI and open data communities was positive in the sense that it was considered a positive step. The GFII Interagency Working Group on Public Data in a press release[11] said that the new PSI licence encourages innovation[12]. French open data players reported on the licence and Regards Citoyens said[13]: “One small step for Open Data, a big step for France! This was our first reaction to the announcement of the release by the Ministry of Justice of the Licence" Public Information "freely reusable.[14]”. At the same time these reports by Regards Citoyens[15] and LiberTic[16] expressed concern about the direction being taken on licensing of the re-use of public sector information in France and its lack of compatibility with international trends and open licensing definitions[17] by the Open Knowledge Foundation.

[9] See page 10 APIE Activity Report 2009: [10]



APIE is working on pricing recommendations to help public bodies to develop the re-use of their data. The recommendations could be based on an advice of the State Council (June 27th 2007): Afficher en écriture latine” the use of a good or service of a public body can justify a fee that takes into account the economic benefit provided to an operator”.

The transposition of the Directive plans a reasonable return on investment, with an upper limit to the charges. The pricing is justified by:

  • A return on investment particularly in respect of the payment for Intellectual Properties
  • A contribution to the quality of public service
  • The need to take into account the nature of information and the type of re-use

The French Community and Public Sector Information

Initiatives by GFII

The Groupement Français de l’Industrie de l’Information (GFII) (French Association of Electronic Information Industry)[18] has actively promoted the re-use of public sector information in wide variety of ways and forums for many years. GFII is a professional association working with key public and private industry information groups (ACSEL, AFIGEO, GESTE, GFII, FIGEC, FING and SPDG), as well as with CADA, APIE, COEPIA and the European Commission. GFII participated in the drafting of the European PSI Re-use Directive and contributed to the debate on the French transposition of the Directive with concrete proposals.

GFII acted as the French national representative and contributed to the work of the ePSIplus Thematic Network from September 2006 to February 2009. GFII continues this European role as the French national representative under the European Public Sector Information Platform (ePSIplatform).

GFII has hosted training events on the re-use of public sector information. Training sessions were held during the autumn of 2009. A recent training day[19] was held on the 22 June 2010 and future dates set for the 21 September and 14 October 2010. The current training programme is designed for those persons responsible for access to documents and administrative matters related to the re-use of public sector data. The training programme is comprehensive and designed to cover many key topics affecting PSI re-use. The trainers offer considerable experience and knowledge from legal, judicial and public administration perspectives.

Recently, GFII hosted a meeting on the 20th May 2010 (Paris)[20] the first in a GFII sponsored seminar series on the Digital Economy and New Value. The theme of the first meeting in the seminar series was: The opening up of public sector information: a challenge for the development of the digital economy (L’ouverture des informations publiques: un enjeu pour le développement de l’économie numérique). There are several noteworthy points coming out of this meeting including news of the formation of the GFII PSI interagency working group and a press release by this group. Organisations now included in this working group include the following.

  • ACSEL: L’Association de l’économie Numérique (Association of digital players)
  • AFIGEO: Association Française pour l'Information Géographique (French Association for Geographic Information)
  • FIGEC: Fédération Nationale de l'Information d'Entreprise et de la Gestion de Créances (National Federation of company information and receivables management)
  • FING: Fondation internet nouvelle génération (New Generation Internet Foundation)
  • GESTE: Groupement des Editeurs de Services en Ligne (Publishers Group Online Services)
  • GFII: Groupement Français de l’Industrie de l’Information (French Association of Electronic Information Industry)
  • SPDG: Syndicat Professionnel de la Géomantique (Trade Association of Geomatics)

Press Release: Seven Keys to Open Data Success

On the 21st May 2010, the GFII Interagency Working Group on public sector information issued a press release entitled: “L’ouverture des données publiques: un facteur d’innovation et de développement de l’économie numérique - Les 7 facteurs clés de succès Groupe inter associations Données publiques” (The opening of public data: a factor of innovation and development of the digital economy – the 7 factors of success by the Interagency working group on public data).

This press release states[21]:

“GFII together with the key players in the information and knowledge market: GFII in 1997 created a working group devoted to the dissemination of public information. GFII has now expanded its activities by including other associations within this group: ACSEL, AFIGEO, FIGEC, FING, GESTE, and SPDG.

This document outlines seven recommendations of international organisations for the development of the digital economy.

Public sector information is a pool to create unique products or value added services and to promote new uses and develop new economic activities. The ease of use of material from government is a factor for social innovation and technological innovation, which promotes the emergence of new players and development of the knowledge industry.

The inter-association group brings together the key economic actors involved: public and private stakeholders in all information sectors (legal, geographic, industrial property, company information, territorial, environmental, scientific ...), but all actors in the information chain: information producers, re-users public and private software companies that can exploit this information, users in enterprises, researchers.

This group is a forum for debate and exchange, encouraging synergies between the different players. It encourages greater re-use of public sector information; which is important for the knowledge economy.

The European Directives on public sector data and environmental information, the dynamic movements around open data, projects such as, use the web for the renewal of democratic practices are already taking place and present important views on issues of public sector information re-use. For France to participate fully in this new momentum, the GFII Inter-association rallies round the seven recommendations:

1. Defining proactive

This policy must be defined at the highest level of the state. The development of economic activity involves putting down clear and permanent polices. An interdepartmental administrative authority must have real powers to implement this policy.

2. Initiate dynamic diffusion

Internet technology empowers public bodies to disseminate and facilitate data they produce. Public bodies should use all the levers at their disposal technology (web services) to accelerate this diffusion. The creation of value through new services from public sector information should be facilitated by clear and simple terms of re-use, in appropriate formats and with interoperability.

3. Open information: complete and visible

Opening up public sector information must be provided for re-use. Public bodies are required by law to make available on their website a directory of their information. For the sake of consistency and visibility, a portal with an international mission, should identify all information produced by public bodies in France.

4. Free and transparent pricing

Public sector information produced in the public interest must be free and re-usable with exceptions (copyright, personal data, privacy). The complete or partial self-financing of some public bodies does not allow them now to ensure such free dissemination. The tariffs proposed in this case by the government must be justified: if these charges can’t be justified, the data should be free. Furthermore, it is essential to establish a clear separation between the mission of public service and state activities in relation to commercial activities in a competitive marketplace.

5. Ensuring the capacity of agencies to ensure the quality of information

The necessary resources must be guaranteed by the government to ensure data quality and formats for their re-use. The quality of information is the basic process of creating value. It requires continuity in the creation, integrity and with interoperability.

6. Develop dialogue between producers and re-users

Space must be organised to facilitate information exchange between information producers and agencies seeking information or re-users.

7. Educate re-users on the conditions of re-use

The re-users must respect the integrity of information: they should not affect either the meaning or the scope. Exhibitors must indicate the source of information and the last update.

[19] and
[20] and

Open data movement and opening up local data

The French open data community is perhaps still developing but definitely is very active and vibrant. This reflects a change in attitude and a growing interest in the re-use of government data in particular at the local level and from citizen perspectives.

Whereas the subject of PSI re-use used to interest limited people in France, since 2009 there is a genuine and real growth in the awareness about the value of public data from economic, political and social actors. This is especially apparent since the Paris opendata bar camp[22] involving sponsorship by a cross section of organisations and held during December 2009 under the theme: “everything you wanted to know about what could be done with public data but were afraid to ask”.

New actors are actively involved in the debate and discussions about the re-use of public sector information and there is focused work, such as highlighted in the following examples.

  • Associations of citizens and non profit organisations such as Regards Citoyens[23] and LiberTic[24] are actively involved in open data discussions and events as well as regularly publishing in online forums on topics related to the re-use of government data in France, Europe and internationally. These organisations effectively utilise Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking and micro blogging to engage with communities, issues and developments. During January 2010, Regards Citoyens published a post on the Open Knowledge Foundation Blog entitled: “Open Data in France: State of Play….France is lagging behind”[25]. This commentary was also published in French on the Regards Citoyens web blog and reflected in other online sources including the ePSIplatform web portal.
  • Regards Citoyens continues to publish posts and information about open data developments on their site. LiberTic is active in open data issues and blogs in French and English. Following the opendata bar camp in la Cantine in Paris LiberTIC launched a local network in the city of Nantes and lobbies in favour of free data. The scrutiny and critiquing by such citizen based organisations will continue to contribute to open data discussions, knowledge base and potentially policy making.
  • Fing[26] - The Next Generation Internet Foundation - now has an open data initiative and a dedicated web page reflecting work being undertaken by Fing related to the re-use of public sector information[27] including videos, useful resources and very stimulating discussions. Fing is also a participant in the GFII, the French Groupement Français de l’Industrie de l’Information, interagency working group focused on the re-use of public sector information.
  • Local authorities (Rennes, Paris, Bordeaux, Midi-Pyrénées…) are taking innovative initial steps and moves to making their data open for re-use. In February 2010, the city of Rennes and Rennes Kéolis, the network operator (STAR Service Transportation of Rennes)[28] made available transportation data[29] through a dedicated website. Examples of re-use based on this opening up of local transportation data by Rennes are already emerging.
  • Innovating organisations such as Cap Digital (French business cluster for digital content and services in Paris and the Ile de France region)[30]
  • Experts or deputies undertaking studies and publishing reports:
    - on a portal providing single access to public sector information (mission given by the Ministry of Finance to General Inspection of Finance and the General Council of Industry, Energy and Technology)
    - on cultural data (Bruno Ory-Lavollée, non published report)
    - on the modernization of administration (Deputy Franck Riester)
  • The city of Brest[31] has announced that a resolution was unanimously adopted allowing free use of geographic data collected by the community[32].

Repositories, Portals and Etat Lab (State Lab)


The situation is very heterogeneous. All public bodies whose main mission is to produce and disseminate information (DILA, INPI, INSEE, IGN) have published their repositories.

Some other government bodies or local authorities provide public sector information repositories on their websites:

- The Prime Minister services:

- the DILA (Legal and Administrative Information Direction)

- The Ministry of Justice

- The Ministry of Economy

- The Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Public service //,93/informations-publiques,9170.html

- Ministry of agriculture www.

- web Portal of official statistics http://www.statistique-publique.f

- web Portal on environnemental data

[22] or
[25] or or

Creation of a PSI portal

APIE is working on the planning and implementation of a French PSI government data portal. Their role is co-ordinating the work of the interdepartmental working group defining the parameters of the portal and assessing the needs of users both traders and public sector. The working group is assisted by experts and benefits from the expertise of IGF-CGIET. APIE is planning to make public the findings of the working group in the early autumn this year and to launch the portal by the end of the year.[33]

The underlying question is which model for France? The overarching goal of the data portal is to support PSI re-use by improving transparency, increasing private companies’ knowledge about existing information and re-use conditions, encouraging information enrichment by mixing data from different sources, enabling development of new products and services and to contribute to economic growth and job creation.

Discussions about the portal planning in forums such as APIE participation in the GFII meeting on the 21 May 2010 outline some of the development work.

  • Before working on the specifications of the portal, APIE undertook a survey or re-users’ needs including citizen and business re-users.
  • To start, the portal will provide a single access point to central government data but this could be expanded quickly to include local data access.
  • Specifications for a powerful search engine are in the planning: themes, authors, language.
  • Interaction with re-users is considered an important feature and it will be possible to access information and success stories such as in video format.
  • A re-users club is proposed to involve re-users and to work towards understanding their needs, as well as to promote re-use.

APIE has recently published its activity report for the year 2009, which includes reports on their work on the re-use of public sector information including the French data portal.[34]

[33] or
[34] See pages 9 to 11:

Etat Lab (State Lab)

During February 2010, a panel of eight digital experts commissioned by the French Government and led by Franck Riester[35], deputy mayor of Coulommiers presented digital proposals for improving the citizens’ digital user experience. The report[36] was presented to Eric Woerth, Minister of Budget, Public Accounts, Civil Service and State Reform and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Secretary of State responsible for Forward Planning and Development of the digital economy.

Recommendation 22 calls for the creation of an “innovative platform” for players to develop services from public sector data and by the end of 2010 to have in place a State lab platform to support such activity. For the moment, the link between the APIE development of a PSI portal and the project "Etat Lab" is not clear.



Many initiatives promote the re-use of public sector data In France, such as the CC Licence of Ministry of Justice or Rennes web portal with open transportation data.

But, some cultural barriers still remain: the report of IGF-CGIET on the portal is unpublished for the moment, as well as a very stimulating report on the re-use of cultural data conducted by Bruno Ory-Lavollée (but available on Internet[37]).

In order to contribute to the development of PSI re-use, GFII continues to organise information meetings and training sessions. The French interagency working group has published a manifesto "the opening of public sector data: a driver of innovation and development of the digital economy". This inter agency working group will continue to work actively in promoting the re-use of public sector information.

Ambitious projects, such as the Etat Lab, could speed up the development and promote the re-use of government data in France.

The emergence of open data organisations actively engaging in the issues of public sector information re-use from citizen perspectives and at local levels will continue. The importance of convincing examples of re-use and good practices from other European countries and internationally will continue to be important, as will the scrutiny and input by the French community from commercial and citizen perspectives into future developments for opening up government data for re-use in France.

The upcoming period is promising for France with a PSI style single access point portal planned to come on stream by the end of 2010. It will also be a challenging one, as it will be for many other European countries, with licensing, pricing, access to raw data and co-ordinating access to local and central data on the agenda.


Related Selection of European Public Sector Information Platform References

LIFT France 2010 with Fing
Turning Innovation into Opportunity: Web Squared: Making Sense of the World through Shared Data

French Open Data Players respond to Paris resolution on provision of government data
Paris taking steps towards Open Data policies, but questions remain

APIE to Celebrate 3rd Anniversary

Les actifs immatériels publics, leviers de création de richesse et de modernisation de l’Etat

Brest métropole Océane adopts open data motion on geographic data
Brest métropole Océane met à son tour ses données géographiques à disposition

Rennes Métropole: 1st French Community to strategically open up government transport data
Result is: 5 transport apps using the open data in 3 weeks

GFII responds to new French licence for public information re-use
GFII Interagency Working Group on Public Data: says new PSI licence encourages innovation

Licence « Information Publique » : un grand pas pour la France?
French Press and Open Data Players Discuss the Ministry of Justice’s new licence for public information re-use

Une 1ère en France: Rennes pilote l’opendata en France
A French First – Rennes announces it is opening its data

Digital Experts call for French State Lab to Develop Services from Government Data
Créer une plateforme d’innovation n de services « Etat Lab » permettant aux acteurs tiers de développer des services innovants à partir de données publiques

French Private Sector Writes about the Open Data Movement
Dream Orange: L'étude complète sur les données brutes du web à télécharger

France integrates PSI publication and distribution
JO+DF = DILA. Création de la Direction de l’information légale et administrative (DILA) au sein des services du Premier minister

Open data in France: the state of play
Regards Citoyens says France is lagging behind…

Paris’ First Open Data Bar Camp Tackles PSI Re-use Issues
Opendatacamp: tout ce que vous avez toujours voulu faire avec les données publiques sans jamais oser le demander