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Licensing and data you own

Why license your dataset?

If your dataset does not have any license terms, it means you do not authorize anyone else to use, copy, distribute, share, combine it with other data, or make any changes to it or make derivative works from it. This absence of a license greatly reduces the reuse potential and usefulness of your dataset.

We encourage pick as open a license as you feel comfortable to maximize the benefits of your dataset. We believe the more open a license is, the more others will use your dataset. For more information on the details of licenses, see our list of common license types for datasets.

Common license considerations

Choose an established and current license

By choosing an established license like one from our list of common license types, you are choosing a license that is widely adopted. Such licenses were drafted by organizations dedicated to making those licenses functional in many situations as well as making them interoperable, clear and understandable. You'll need to read the actual licenses by clicking on the links we've provided to make sure you've picked the appropriate one for your dataset and how you would like others to interact with your dataset.

Consider how you want others to use your dataset

The more open a license you choose, the more others can use, share and distribute your dataset to get to insights faster. Your dataset could be important to solving a pressing issue. We encourage you to maximize your dataset's potential by choosing an open license.

Consider the results of a data project

When a project involves a number of datasets, each with different licenses, the licenses may conflict and greatly restrict or even prohibit the resulting work. By choosing the most open license, you amplify your dataset's usefulness. Another tip is to review the licenses of the other datasets that may be involved in a project or used in your industry to determine what type of license would allow your dataset to be used alongside those datasets. Usually, two datasets, both with CC-BY licenses, can be combined under those license terms. However, you will still need to pay attention to the different versions of those licenses to make sure they work with one another. In addition, just because datasets have licenses which are similar like a CC-BY and ODC-ODbL, does not mean those datasets can be combined because of conflicts between those licenses.

Our recommendation

We like the current versions of the open Creative Commons licenses, since these licenses are widely adopted, are applicable to databases and facilitate collaboration. We believe these licenses are becoming the more widely accepted for datasets and databases. In addition, Creative Commons has created a tool to help you choose the appropriate license for your dataset.

For instructions on how to set the license type for a dataset, see Setting a license type

To help determine the license to select, see Common license types for datasets

Find a dataset you'd like to share on Check out Licensing and data you found.