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Licensing and citing data

How to share data by specifying a license

(from the Open Data Handbook and Open Definition)

In most jurisdictions there are intellectual property rights in data that prevent third-parties from using, reusing and redistributing data without explicit permission. Even in places where the existence of rights is uncertain, it is important to apply a license simply for the sake of clarity. So, for “open” data, it is advisable to use a license for dedication to the public domain or share-alike (plus attribution), through Creative Commons or Open Data Commons.

The following licenses conform with the principles set forth in the Open Definition.

  • Domain = Domain of application, i.e. what type of material this license should/can be applied to. Note if you are looking for an open license for software, please see Open Source Definition conformant licenses.
  • BY = requires attribution
  • SA = require share-alike
License Domain By SA Comments
Creative Commons CCZero (CC0) Content, Data N N Dedicate to the Public Domain (all rights waived)
Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL) Data N N Dedicate to the Public Domain (all rights waived)
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY-4.0) Content, Data Y N
Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) Content Y N All versions 1.0-3.0, including jurisdiction “ports”
Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-BY) Data Y N Attribution for data(bases)
Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 (CC-BY-SA-4.0) Content, Data Y Y
Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA) Content Y Y All versions 2.0-3.0, including jurisdiction “ports”; version 1.0 is little used and not recommended because it is incompatible with future versions
Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL) Data Y Y Attribution-ShareAlike for data(bases)
Free Art License (FAL) Content Y Y

See more at:

How to cite data from Open Development

Not only should citations be created when collecting data from other sources, but also when using data from an Open Development website. The citation should include the name of the author or source organization, the name of the page or resource used, the link/URL, and the date of access. For further guidance, choose an established citation format (such as APA or Chicago) and apply it consistently.


Open Development Mekong. “Hydropower.” CSV file. Accessed December 8, 2014.

Discussion of licensing information

For more information about licensing, please visit the page Licensing Discussion

licensing_and_sharing_data.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/23 15:04 (external edit)