Research Data Management: Copyright and Licensing

Copyright and licensing

The owner of any original data holds copyright over that data from the time the data is created. In general, VU owns the copyright of material generated by staff in the course of their employment. The researcher, however, owns the copyrights on academic publications.

The owner is usually the creator, but some agreements may require joint ownerships of data or assign ownership to the funder.  Licenses grant permission for others to use the copyrighted data. Open Content Licenses are an easy way for researchers to license their data for others to use. Researchers can choose the most suitable license for their needs rather than develop a custom license themselves. The most notable open content licenses are:

  • Creative Commons - most popular open content licenses. The Creative Commons CC0 waiver is data-specific, it applies to the to the open access to, or sharing of underlying  data in tables etc. 
  • Science Commons- similar to Creative Commons but tailored for scientific data and publications.
  • GNU Free Documentation License - used by Wikipedia.

Data licensing

The following is an excerpt with minor alterations from Data Re-Use and Licensing Frameworks authored by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS).

One of the essential ingredients of reusable data is clarity of reuse permissions, terms, and conditions.  Prospective reusers need to know exactly what they can do with the data.  Those conditions and permissions should be explicit. Not being clear about permission to reuse data can have the same result as forbidding data reuse, because uncertainty can be enough to discourage the potential reuser.

VU 'Making Data Available Guidelines'

Open Licensing Framework

AusGOAL (formerly GILF) is an open licensing framework designed to assist organisations to start by default from the most open licensing arrangements and work back from there as appropriate.  ANDS has prepared a Guide to AusGOAL.  AusGOAL has been successfully used in many Commonwealth and State government agencies (e.g. Geoscience Australia) to move these organisations on to an open access data footing.  The AusGOAL framework incorporates Creative Commons licences.

In principle, any kind of clarity around re-use permissions and conditions is useful.  ANDS is promoting the use of AusGOAL in the research and innovations sector in order to not "reinvent the wheel" and to ensure licensing harmony within and between these sectors.