Data Licensing

Applying a license represents an essential step when you intend to share your data. It is also vital to verify the licensing terms governing the data you plan to re(use). 

Licenses offer clear guidelines to those who wish to reuse data and outline the precise terms under which they can do so and how they should provide credit for your contributions. Neglecting to clearly indicate a license to your data can introduce uncertainty and inefficiency for both the creators of the data and those looking to use it. Also, ignoring or overseeing licensing terms before reusing data can result in serious legal implications.

Choosing a license for your data

It is crucial to acknowledge that datasets introduce unique licensing complexities compared to other open-access materials. While navigating licenses can be extremely complex, most data repositories make it easier for researchers to narrow down options for depositors. According to the U.S. Copyright Law, research data are facts by themselves and are not copyrightable. Therefore, the Creative Commons license has been adopted by most repositories. Two of the most common licenses are CC0 (Public Domain) and CC-BY-4.0 (Attribution License).

For a more in-depth understanding of the factors to consider when licensing your data, refer to the resources on the right-hand side. These resources will assist you in navigating the complexities of data licensing, ensuring that your data is shared efficiently and effectively.

Code Licensing

Unlike research data, code and databases (compilation of data) can be copyrighted or subject to a broader set of licenses. You are not obligated to select a license; nevertheless, standard copyright laws come into effect in the absence of one. This means that you retain full rights to your source code, and no one is permitted to reproduce, distribute, or generate derivative works from your code. We strongly recommend including an open-source license if you are embarking on an open-source project. The Open Source Guide offers further guidance on selecting the appropriate license for your project. You may also check the Choose a License resource ( maintained by GitHub. Inc. to explore available options and decide on the most appropriate license for your software and code.

Other research deliverables (Products & Services)

Intellectual Property at UC Santa Barbara is managed by the Office of Technology and Industry Alliances. Refer to their website for more information on how you can protect your innovative research outputs.


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