Any open data initiative must consider copyright law. This law sets out the rules for protecting a wide variety of works, including public sector data.
As a general rule, a copyright protected work may not be used without the consent of the copyright owner. However, article 4(a) of the Omani Copyright Law excludes “official documents” from copyright protection making them automatically legally open. This allows members of the public to use official documents for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, without the need to seek anyone’s permission and without the need to rely on an open licence.
A concept of “free uses” is set out in article 20 of the law which allows members of the general public to use copyright-protected works without the need to seek anyone’s permission in specific circumstances. For example, article 20(1) allows quoting a protected work for illustration or criticism without the need to obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Notwithstanding the official document exclusion and the free uses concept, the adoption of open licences is encouraged since the law does not provide specific guidance on what government works would qualify as an official document and since the grounds for free use are limited.