Open Scientific Data Licenses

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See for background: Open Scientific Data


Peter Murray-Rust:

"The two approaches – Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL) and Creative Commons CC0 – are roughly equivalent. I hope it’s useful to say that PPDL comes out of an Open Knowledge philosphy and deals with collections and other non-scientific content, whereas CC0 springs more directly from science." (



"The appropriate way to license published scientific data is an argument that has now been rolling on for some time. Broadly speaking the argument has devolved into two camps. Firstly those who have a belief in the value of share-alike or copyleft provisions of GPL and similar licenses. Many of these people come from an Open Source Software or Open Content background. The primary concern of this group is spreading the message and use of Open Content and to prevent “freeloaders” from being able to use Open material and not contribute back to the open community. A presumption in this view is that a license is a good, or at least acceptable, way of achieving both these goals. Also included here are those who think that it is important to allow people the freedom to address their concerns through copyleft approaches. I think it is fair to characterize Rufus as falling into this latter group.

On the other side are those, including myself, who are concerned more centrally with enabling re-use and re-purposing of data as far as is possible. Most of us are scientists of one sort or another and not programmers per se. We don’t tend to be concerned about freeloading (or in some cases welcome it as effective re-use). Another common characteristic is that we have been prevented from being able to make our own content as free as we would like due to copyleft provisions. I prefer to make all my content CC-BY (or cc0 where possible). I am frequently limited in my ability to do this by the wish to incorporate CC-BY-SA or GFDL material. We are deeply worried by the potential for licensing to make it harder to re-use and re-mix disparate sets of data and content into new digital objects. There is a sense amongst this group that “data is different” to other types of content, particulary in its diversity of types and re-uses. More generally there is the concern that anything that “smells of lawyers”, like something called a “license”, will have scientists running screaming in the opposite direction as they try to avoid any contact with their local administration and legal teams." (

More Information

  1. Public Domain Dedication and License
  2. CC0
  3. Open Scientific Data