Data Licenses

Research data may be published with several licenses. A data license is a legal instrument that lets others know what they can and cannot do with your research data.

If you want to publish your research data in a data repository, you have to choose a licence to accompany your data. Each data repository has its own licensing options. Some repositories require you to use a certain license if you want to deposit your data with them. At Dryad, for example, all datasets are published under the terms of Creative Commons Zero to minimize legal barriers and to maximize the impact on research and education.

The following are common licenses:

  • Licenses for datasets

Creative Commons licenses offer a simple, standard way to share open content with permission and under certain conditions.

The CC0 Public Domain Dedication License was specifically created to avoid any legal and technological obstacles to reusing research data. The latest version of CC-licenses also includes database rights. A database holder can use a CC 4.0 license to allow uses that could cause issues under database rights. You can also make your data open with Open Data Commons Licenses.

  • Open Source Software Licenses

CC-licenses are not recommended for licensing your source code. They do not contain specific terms about the source code distribution. Moreover CC-licenses do not adress patent rights while patent rights are important for many softwares. To ensure the free reuse and modifiability of software, you may wish to choose one of the Open Source Software licenses like the MIT license, Apache License or one of the GPL Licenses.

  • Data repository specific licenses

Several data repositories have created their own license agreements. On your request, Wageningen University & Research datasets may be registered and published at EASY (DANS) or 4TU.Centre for Research Data. These data repositories allow data to be published with Open Access or restricted access licenses (open metadata, access after permission is granted) Also see 'Publishing your dataset in a repository'.

Related topics

  • Applying a data license that allows reuse of your data doesn't necessarily mean others can actually reuse your data. The dataset has to be available in a format that permits reuse. See 'File Formats'.
  • Want to know more about managing your source code? See 'Manage your source code with Git@WUR'.