Licenses tell users up front about any restrictions or expectations for reuse and resharing of your published materials, and increase the likelihood that other researchers will consider your data for reuse.

Below are the most common options for:
Data | Software | Copyrightable Works

Assuming the data can be openly shared*, consider the following as you decide which license to choose:

  • what license(s) does the repository support or provide?
  • what are your preferences regarding reuse, attribution, derivatives, and commercialization?
  • what are the research funder, institutional, and publisher requirements?


Data, in and of itself, is not copyrightable. For open access data, we suggest using Open Data Commons (ODC) licenses for publishing data. There are three types of ODC licenses:

  • Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License v1.0 [more info]
  • Open Data Commons Attribution License v1.0[more info]
  • Open Data Commons Open Database License v1.0 [more info]


Software/code/scripts are increasingly shared in parallel with data. These guides can help you select an appropriate license.


For sharing copyrightable works (e.g., works of art, articles and other publications, instructional videos), we suggest using a Creative Commons license. The license chooser can help you select an appropriate license:

For more information:


Attribution: the act of attributing something especially : the ascribing of a work (as of literature or art) to a particular author or artist. [more info]

Copyright: a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship.[more info]

Intellectual Property (IP) : any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, images, names and logos used in commerce. IP includes copyrights, patents, trademarks, unfair competition and trade secrets.

License: a legal instrument that enables the data owner/creator to provide permissions to other users, under specific terms, to use the dataset.

Non-Commercial: a license that is not intended for or directed toward commercial advantage; there is no monetary compensation.

Non-Derivative: people may copy and distribute a work but they are not allowed to create “derivative works” or adaptations of the original work (i.e., adapting, remixing, transforming, translating, or updating it, in any way that makes a derivative).

Open Data Commons: a license for data and databases. Open Data Commons provides a set of legal tools and licenses to help you publish, provide and use open data. [more info]

Open Source: licenses that allow software to be freely used, modified, and shared. These licenses must comply with the Open Source Definition [more info]

Public Domain: a work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.

*Note: for human subject and other sensitive or restricted access data, research funding agencies may require the use of specific repositories (see NIH, for example). In other cases, a data use agreement may be required in order to share data with someone external to the UI.