Copyrighted or public domain?
A work is defined as a perceptible manifestation of a certain ‘mental creation’ or creativity. To receive copyright protection, the work must meet two requirements. It must:
- have an original character of its own, which means that work is not borrowed from other works.
- bear the personal stamp of the author/creator, which means that it is the result of a person’s creativity.
You can present data and make them available in different forms, for example, as graphs, diagrams, discussions in text, a list of numbers, or as a collection in a database. Depending on its form, the data could be protected by copyright or database right.
Unprotected research data - Bare facts, or factual research data, are not protected by copyright because they do not fit the abovementioned criteria, for example, when you present a series of measurements in a table in a way that anyone could create a similar table.
Copyright-protected research data – Research data become copyright-protected when you process bare facts into a form of expression for which personal/subjective choices are made, for example, when you design and visualise data in a diagram or graph, when you discuss research data in a research article, or when you make a specific selection of data or arrange the data in a specific manner. When reusing these works, you need to adhere to the applied licence. Note: when you extract data points – bare facts – from, for example, a graph, the data points are not copyright protected.
Database right – When a database consists of independent items, is searchable or is systematically arranged to trace individual items and the database requires a substantial investment (e.g. time and/or money), database right applies. Database right protects you against third parties that wish to use large portions of the database or use it without consent or payment. However, when a database fits the abovementioned criteria for a work, it is subject to copyright protection.
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