How to use licenses

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Process to choose a license tends to be same for software and content

Q - Who do you want to use what you are making?
Researchers and practitioners working in same space — enough to dedicate resources to it
Q - What do you want them to be able to do with it?
Build on it and share so others can continue the cycle

Example of uses

copy, combine, modify, broadcast

Copyright won’t help you with data privacy. Keeping control won’t protect privacy. No legal or practical overlap. As soon as it’s readable it can be reverse engineered.

Data and CC0

For data the trend is toward CC0. In science this is a big deal because they create meta meta datasets.

Q - Is there somebody else’s stuff that I want to re-use?
e.g. P2PU people can share resources — we had to think about what to use for what people made collectively. We wanted to re-use Wikipedia content, so we needed to use their license. So if you are a downstream user that might create a different imperative.

You still retain copyright if you use CC-BY-SA — you simply are co-licensing

Pure data points are facts — in the USA there is no copyright on this or on databases. However, in Europe the law is different — if you make a big pile of facts then you gain get a legal right on that database.

If you create software where you download all as a single blob then you need to talk to a lawyer. Whereas with with content you can actually license different chapters differently.


  • Now we have software, data, content (general media)
  • Patents (hardware, design) get more complex // you’ve got to license the whole hardware stack

My Q re changing license for Flickr images… Once something has been licensed then the version you have until the end of that license. If they re-license that’s okay, as long as you’re complying with the original license. But of course you have to have proof — even just a register is okay.

Creative Commons helped to write license for WBG.

Joint ownership creates challenges. If you want to dual/triple license then that can cause issues. Hard to get anything done because who decides on license changes in the future.

No business models for making money off of content in the NP sector. Even Hollywood having a hard time! Really the issue is control. Typically the creator is the best person to own it. Especially looking forward in 10 years time.

Debate around whether APIs are copyrightable. It’s a bit of a mess legally.

Google around licensing generally straight players.

Contributors who are contributing to your projects: volunteers, employees, contractors. You need to have agreements for them ( — for software but you can hack and put in the CC license) that allow you to re-license. Use same agreement for everyone. You don’t need copyright by you do permission to re-license because so so much work.