8. Copyright Licenses for Research Data

Why Obtain a Copyright License for Research Data?

Applying for a license for your data is a key step in sharing and making your data open. Leaving your dataset unlicensed creates uncertainty about the terms of use and re-use of your data. Licensing your data allows you to specify that your data is open for re-use (Emory University, 2021)

Copyright licenses define who can re-use the data, and for what purposes. Planning to license your data, materials, code, and supplemental materials should be part of any research output that will be shared. If you share your research without a licence, you are not making clear how you wish the research to be used which might prevent it being used the way you intend (Bowman, 2021).

Three conditions commonly found in licences are attribution, copyleft, and non-commerciality.


An attribution requirement means that the licensor must be given due credit for the work when it is distributed, displayed, performed, or used to derive new work.


A copyleft requirement means that any new works derived from the licensed one must be released under the same licence, and only that licence.


The intent of a non-commercial license is to prevent the licensee from exploiting the work commercially. Such licenses are often used as part of a dual-licensing regime, where the alternative license allows commercial uses but requires payment to the licensor (Bekaert et al., 2003).

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