09.03.2015 - 09:37

Creative Commons license attribution option for datasets

The CRC806-Database now offers the opportunity to assign Creative Commons licenses to archived and published research data.

Some of the most well known scientific publishing platforms like Nature Publishing Group or PLOS | One license research data and publications using the Creative Commons licensing scheme. We decided now to also adapt the Creative Commons license options for datasets of the CRC806-Database.

What may regarded as self-evident and naturally in scientific communication and research, is the practice of citing and attributing the authors of work you reuse in your own work. But this practice may probably not very self-evident and always legally feasible outside of the scientific ivory tower. Basically, if you do not assign any license to your work, it is in many jurisdictions (for example in Germany) not reusable without consent of the authors. This is probably not what a scientist normally wants for his publications and data. It also prevents the public from reusing the data outside of an scientific context, in the sense of open data, because the copyright is unclear without a license. Licensing data makes it easier to reuse the data legally safe in the sense the creators intend it to be reused. The creators have also the opportunity to assign restrictions in the way the data shall be used or shared downstream. Creative Commons licenses provide an easy way to manage these copyright terms.

We assume that scientist want everybody to reuse their published works, without asking for consent and other hurdles. Thus, as a default we assigned every dataset, that did not already have a license specified by the dataset maintainer the license CC BY, which is basically the scientific default. It means, that you can use the data provided for any purpose, but you have to attribute the creators, e.g. cite the data set if you use it. It is also possible to put the data in public domain, assigning the CC 0 (CC Zero) license, that does not demand any attribution. If you wish to have your license more or less restrictive, you can adjust the license by editing your datasets metadata using the simple dialog we implemented for choosing a license.

The CC licenses follow a simple and clear licensing code, that allows to configure a license for almost any use case and demand. This allowed us to implement a simple user interface based on the CC API to assign a CC license to a dataset. The interface simply asks the dataset maintainer three basic questions. 1. If the license “requires attribution”, this would then be encoded then as “BY”. 2. If the license “allows derivations of your work”, if marked as true, then you will be asked another question, if you demand to have the same license for derivations, which would then be encoded as the share alike “SA” tag. And 3. it is asked, if you allow commercial use of the work. If you deny that it will be encoded as non commercial in form of the “NC” tag.

You can find more detailed information about the Creative Commons licensing mechanism here. Please check, if your datasets in the CRC806-Database have the license you want to have for your works.