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Can I control the reuse of my data?

Whatever form of publishing is used, research data needs to be licensed to remove any ambiguity over what users can and cannot do with your data.

Other than the development of bespoke licences, there is also a range of standard licences and waivers. It is often more beneficial to use these rather than those that match specific criteria. Standard licences afford enhanced organisational efficiency, reduced costs, a greater interoperability of data, and increased user-awareness of licence terms.

Standard Licences

Creative Commons (CC) Licenses

These are fast becoming one of the most used and recognised standards for providing access to data. They permit the free-of-charge copying, reuse, distribution and, in some cases, modification of the creator's work without having to obtain permission each time.

The benefits of using CC Licences include:

  • the ease and use of the Licences.
  • widespread adoption
  • familairity
  • flexibility
  • availability in human-readable or machine-readable forms

CC Zero (CC0)

CC0 was created by Creative Commons to facilitate the release of content, data, datasets and databases into the public domain. Where this is not possible, a CC0 Licence provides the means for the rights holder to provide an irrevocable, royalty-free and unconditional licence. If data is already in the public domain, it can be marked using the CC Public Domains Mark.

Open Data Commons

Open Data Commons has produced three licences for datasets:

  • Public Domain Dedication and Licence, which puts all your material in the public domain.
  • Attribution Licence, where reusers must attribute any public use of the database in the manner specified in the licence.
  • Open Database Licence, requires reusers of your data to share back changes.

Open Government Licence

The Open Government Licence facilitates the reuse of Government and other public sector information. It replaces the "Click Use" licence previously used to provide access to Crown Copyright materials. It is available in human- or machine-readable formats, but it should be noted that it does not permit copying of logos, registered trademarks and other IP such as patents.

More information


Research Data team

University of St Andrews Library
North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9TR
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: (01334) 462343