Licences for Research Data in RADAR

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In order to clarify options of data reuse, RADAR supports different licence-models. RADAR recommends the use of liberal licences. A comparison of the Creative Commons (CC)-Licences and the German Copyright Code can be found below. CC-Licences are appropriate to be used for research data publications from Version 4.0 onwards.

LogoAbbreviationNameDescription
Cc-by new.svgCC BY
Attribution

This licence allows others to copy, redistribute and promote a work or its data, but also to change or build upon its contents and to distribute them, even commercially, as long as the rightholder of the original creation is credited. This is the least restrictive of all licences, and thus maximizes the propagation and reuse of the licenced materials.

Cc-by new.svgCc-nd.svgCC BY-NDAttribution - NoDerivatives

This licence allows others to copy, redistribute and promote a work or its data, commercially and non-commercially, as long as these are passed along unchanged and in whole and credit the rightholder of the original creation.

Cc-by new.svgCc-sa.svg           CC BY-SAAttribution - ShareAlike

This licence allows others to copy, redistribute and promote a work or its data, but also to change or build upon its contents and to distribute them, even commercially, as long as the rightholder of the original creation is credited and the resulting work is also carrying the same licence terms. In this way, all new works based on the licenced resource will contain the same licence, and also allow its commercial use.

Cc-by new.svgCc-nc.svgCC BY-NCAttribution - NonCommercial

This licence allows others to copy, redistribute and promote a work or its data, but also to change or build upon its contents and to distribute them, strictly for non-commercial purposes, as long as the rightholder of the original creation is credited.

Cc-by new.svgCc-nc.svgCc-sa.svg                CC BY-NC-SA

Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike

This licence allows others to copy, redistribute and promote a work or its data, but also to change or build upon its contents and to distribute them, strictly for non-commercial purposes, as long as the rightholder of the original creation is credited and the resulting work is also carrying the same licence terms. In this way, all new works based on the licenced resource will contain the same licence, thus also disallowing commercial use.

Cc-by new.svgCc-nc.svgCc-nd.svgCC BY-NC-ND

Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives

This licence allows others to copy, redistribute and promote a work or its data, strictly for non-commercial purposes, as long as these are passed along unchanged and in whole and credit the rightholder of the original creation.

Cc.logo.circle.svgCc-zero.svg

CC0 v1.0

                        

Creative Commons Zero

With this licence the rightholder renounces all the rights (as far as the German Copyright Code allows) regarding the work and respective data, thereby permitting the copy, redistribution, promotion, change or building upon its contents, also commercially, without crediting the author or rightholder. This is also valid for the resulting works, meaning that mentioning or crediting the original rightholder is optional.

Copyright

Copyright

German Copyright Code

 

Before choosing a licence the data provider should make sure that:

  • the proprietor of the research data is clearly identified, and that he/she has the right to publish or to make the data accessible to others,
  • the potential commercial value is considered. Generally, research data which has been previously published are no longer accepted for patent registration procedures and
  • the reuse of the research data is assured and as extensive as possible, while still reflecting the position of both the data provider and the authors.

The main advantages of Creative Common-Licences, regarding other available licences are:

  • they respect the rightholder,
  • they are world-wide known, recognized by the German Copyright Code, and thereby judicially valid and applicable,
  • they are constantly updated to the latest legal developments and
  • they are formulated in a clear and understandable way.

The attribution of a CC-Licence to a digital object which should be made publicly available, offers a world-wide known, standardized method to clearly state and define the respective user-rights. The rightholder has the unconditional decision over the choice of the licence, and defines more or less permissive conditions of reuse of his/her data, while not making use of further services of other collecting societies (e.g., scientific publishers). By choosing the appropriate licence, the rightholder ensures the reuse and distribution of his/her data, to everyone, as long as credit is given to him/her. In this way, the rightholder may also restrict the commercial use of data, as well as the publication or distribution of works based on his/her work.

Most of the CC-Licences contain the BY-designation. BY requires the ‚Attribution’ (citation) of the Authors, as soon as the work goes through any stage of a reuse process.


The rightholder may set further restrictions to data reuse (in addition to ‚Attribution‘ (BY)):

  • ‚Non Commercial’ (NC) – the work may only be used for non-commercial purposes.
  • ‚No Derivatives’ (ND) – the copy, distribution, and use of the work is only allowed if its original form is kept. Changes are only allowed within a private, non-public copy of the work.
  • ‚Share Alike’ (SA) – all new contents and resulting works which are based on the original data must retain the same SA-licence or a compatible one. This designation assures that all resulting work has the same terms-of-use as the original one.

For detailed information, please also refer to the guideline “Open Content – A Practical Guide to Using Creative Commons Licences”.

‚Public Domain’-publication in Germany

In many English speaking countries, including the US, data which is not subject to copyright protection may be dedicated to the so-called ‘Public Domain’. The (juristic) term ‘Public Domain’ therefore means, in Anglo-Saxon countries, that data is ‘free from copyright’, and in such cases, researchers and institutes renounce copyright protection and rightholder privileges. According to German legislation such a complete abdication of author-rights is not possible, as revealed by the author's moral rights ("Urheberpersönlichkeitsrecht", § 29 UrhG). This means that, in Germany, an author or employee always retains the copyright over his/her own work, even when it was created as a service for a company or institute. Such cases are covered by the use of the CC-Licence CC0 v1.0 Universal, which allows the unrestricted use of the work, for all purposes, including commercial ones.
 

Data publication and the usage of the German Copyright Code ©

In Germany, the use of literary, artistic and scientific works is regulated by the German Copyright Code, as long as these works fulfil the minimum conditions for such. Data reuse is therefore only possible within the frame of the exceptions to the copyright code, as long as users do not benefit from a licence exceeding those copyright exceptions. In these cases, the private or own reuse through viewing or saving the data in its original form is allowed, provided that the rightholder is named. Further data sharing or renewed data publication from changed data in a different context is not allowed.

In principle, primary scientific data, typically as pure facts or observations, is not covered by the German Copyright Code. It may be covered by copyright if a personal, intellectual effort or a clear investment was necessary for the data generation, thereby attaining a certain degree of originality. In many cases however, this investment takes place during the data acquisition phase, and cannot be considered as an originality factor. As such, data acquired in this way is not protected by copyright (§87a UrhG)[1]. These cases should be individually evaluated, for example, when data represents intermediate working data, or the results thereof. In such cases the consultation of a specialized lawyer is recommended.

In order to maximize the reuse of research data which are in principle protected by German Copyright Code, the use of additional licensing is strongly recommended, for example by considering the attribution of CC-Licences. The use of such licences allows for the reuse of research data, and may increase the visibility and reputation of the involved scientists, serving as a tool to overcome community- and discipline-specific barriers.


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[1] Schulze/Dreier, § 87a, Rn. 11 ff. in Dreier, T./Schulze, G., Urheberrechtsgesetz: Kommentar, 3. Aufl. 2009.