Skip to main content

Research Data Management: Creative Commons licenses

Introduction

According to the Tampere higher education community´s Open Science and Research Policy, machine-readable licenses that allow reuse, should be used when licensing research data. It is recommended to make all research data, code and software created within a research project available for reuse, e.g., under Creative CommonsGNUMIT or another relevant license in order to facilitate data reuse.

In this guide, you will find information on:

  • how to select a CC license
  • most important Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons licenses are suitable for research data and metadata. The CC license requires that others who use your work in any way must give you credit the way you request, but they can share your work and modify it freely. Prefer Creative Commons 4.0 or CC0 open licenses. Before data can be licensed, the ownership has to be cleared.

How to select a CC license

Creative Commons license selection process is based on Tarmo Toikkanen's image, 2014, CC0, and inspired by ImagOA - Open Science and Use of Images guide by Jenni Mikkonen, Mari Pesola, Maria Rehbinder, Marika Sarvilahti, Metropolia, Valovirta Design, Jorgos Hatzikelis, Ulla Timonen ja Mikko Multanen.

Read more about licenses

Creative Commons Licenses

The following Creative Commons licenses allow the researcher/research group (“copyright holder” or “data creator”) to apply different restrictions on the reuse of their data. All Creative Commons licenses require attribution. Use CC0 if attribution is not necessary.

Please keep in mind that CC-licenses may not be suitable for all needs. It is recommended to use other licenses for code, such as MIT License and GPL License. These licenses include a limitation of risk, ensuring that the copyright holder and software developer are not liable for the use of the licensed material.

CC0 (Public Domain)

This license grants others worldwide a permit to copy, distribute, modify, and build upon your data, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. Associating CC0 with your data means no copyright; the data have been dedicated to the public domain by waiving all of your rights worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. The rights waived include database rights, so CC0 is suitable for use with data.

CC0 is the most efficient way of facilitating reuse of your data, and what is important, is that, those who use your data have to anyway follow the community norms for scholarly publication and cite your data.

CC BY (Attribution)

This is the most common and flexible of all CC-licenses. It allows others to freely copy, distribute, modify and build upon your data, even commercially. It is required that anyone using the data gives appropriate credit to the original data creator. CC BY is recommended for extended distribution and use of any licensed work. It is also suitable for many datasets.

CC BY-ND (Attribution-NoDerivatives)

This license allows others to freely copy and distribute the data, even commercially, but if they transform or build upon it, they may not distribute the modified material. Appropriate credit must be given to the creator. 

This license severely restricts any meaningful research reuse of data.

CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial)

This license grants others a permit to copy, distribute modify, and build upon your data but only non-commercially.  Appropriate credit must be given to the original creator, and the derivative works have to be non-commercial, but they don’t have to be licensed under identical terms.

It may be tricky to draw a line between what is and what is not commercial. For example, even academic publishers may be seen as commercial businesses that charge fees for access to their contents. So, use of this license could prevent someone publish her results, if she uses your data. Read more about licenses for research data.

CC BY-SA (Attribution-ShareAlike)

This license allows others to copy, distribute, modify and build upon your data, even commercially. The only condition is that they give an appropriate credit to data creator. All new derivatives must be licensed as the original. Therefore any CC BY-SA works will have the same license.

This CC-license is used e.g. by Wikipedia, and it is most suited for collaborative projects.

CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives)

This license allows others to freely copy and distribute the work, but only non-commercially. If they transform or build upon it, they may not distribute the modified material. The aim for this license is to allow free distribution of the data, but exactly in the same form and format as the original material. Appropriate credit must be given to the creator.

 This license severely restricts any meaningful research reuse of data.