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Licensing and copyright for data reuse


Open licensing for data

If data is not licensed legally no-one else can use it. In Australia, no licence is regarded as the same as 'all rights reserved', confining any reuse to very limited circumstances. Applying a Creative Commons licence to your data is a simple way to ensure that your data can be reused. The less restrictive the licence, the more that can be done with the data.

A summary of Australian Creative Commons licenses:


Creative Commons Licenses explained [3.35 min]

Assigning a licence to data

The process of assigning a Creative Commons licence to research data is usually  straightforward.  It is up to the copyright owner (also sometimes called the ‘rightsholder’) to determine which type of licence should be assigned.  In some cases, copyright will be owned by the creator (e.g. the researcher), while in others, it will be owned by their employer (e.g. University).

Preference should be given to assigning the least restrictive licence possible. This will maximise opportunities for data reuse, collaboration and ensure proper attribution.

Reusing licensed data

When reusing licensed data, it may only be used in the way permitted by the licence.  Where no licence has been assigned, contact the data owner (rightsholder) for permission.

Using multiple datasets in research

When using multiple datasets with different licences in your research, it is important to ensure the licences assigned to those datasets are compatible. Creative Commons have created a handy License Compatibility chart that shows which CC licenses may be combined.

Learn more

Detailed information for the owners (rightsholder), users and suppliers of data for research is available

Software licences

Organisations creating and analysing data often create their own software because the functionalities they require are not available in 'off-the-shelf' software. If data is published that is either created or analysed with such software this associated software is often made available alongside the data.

If such software is developed without the inclusion of software from any external source, the BSD 3-Clause Software Licence provides permissions akin to the CC-BY Attribution Licence, and is well recognised within the open software community. Whilst it is possible to license software under a Creative Commons licence, it is not recommended.