When you disseminate data that you own or manage, you need to think about how you want others to re-use it. It is your responsibility to communicate clearly the terms and conditions that you want re-users of your data to follow.
All rights reserved: relying on the Copyright Act
You can reserve all your rights under the Copyright Act. This means people can view and download a copy of your data for private research and study only. They must credit you as the creator, and potential re-users would need to seek your permission for any other type of activity, including re-publishing.
While reserving all your rights can be useful for publications, in the case of data it can limit the research impact of your work by restricting other researchers from undertaking common activities such as deriving data or aggregating your data with other datasets.
If your goals in disseminating your data are to facilitate the greatest re-use possible, then applying an open licence will be more effective than relying on copyright legislation.
Some rights reserved: standard open licences
For openly accessible data, a standard licence is the most effective way of ensuring appropriate re-use. An open licence lets you reserve some rights as the owner of the material, but grant re-users more rights than they would have just under copyright legislation.
Adopting a standard licence is often a pre-condition to depositing in a repository or archive, but licences can also be applied to resources disseminated via the web or other means.
Griffith researchers are encouraged to consider using open licences. Licences enable you to clearly indicate to others your wishes about how the data can be re-used and how you want to be attributed.
The Australian National Data Service recommends AusGOAL (the Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework), which has been endorsed as the preferred policy and licensing suite for government information across Australia. AusGOAL is now officially being extended into the research and innovation sector. AusGOAL’s core is a suite of six standard Creative Commons (CC) licences that give you a great deal of flexibility in expressing your wishes. A good principle to apply is to use the least restrictive licence that is applicable to your data collection. If you want your data to be as widely used as possible, the Creative Commons Attribution Only licence (CC-BY), would be the most useful for that aim.
Some rights reserved: restricted licences and custom re-use agreements
If you would like to make data available only under certain conditions or by negotiation, you can use a restrictive licence or other written agreement (such as a Data Transfer Agreement). You might consider this when data contains personal or other confidential information, or if you want to impose some other condition such as a time limit on use or some form of payment.
Agreements of this kind could be constructed from a model template or developed for you especially to meet the requirements of a specific project. Examples of this approach include:
- the agreements associated with the Australian National Corpus (AusNC)
- the Protocols of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive (ATSIDA)
A restricted licence provides you with more protection and enables you to be specific about terms and conditions, but it can also be time-consuming and, if legal advice is required, expensive.
No rights reserved: copyright waivers and public domain dedications
Some licences or agreements allow you to place your work in the public domain. When you apply these to your work, you waive all your rights and the protections offered by copyright, including the right to be credited as the creator.
You should think carefully before using a ‘No rights reserved’ licence. Standards and tools for data citation are emerging, and in future citation of data may be an important metric for research impact. Waiving your rights means that neither you nor Griffith University must be credited if data is re-used.
If you are required by an archive or repository to use a copyright waiver or public domain dedication, you should find out whether any "community norms" statements can be applied. These will not be legally binding but can signal your wishes to potential re-users, where this is practical.
Resources and contacts
- How to Licence Research Data (Digital Curation Centre, UK)
- Copyright, Data, and Licensing (Australian National Data Service)
- AusGOAL (website)
- Creative Commons Australia (website)