Which Creative Commons Licence?

24 Jun
Published by MatTodd


general open research

We're drawing up a contract (with WHO and the ARC) to cover our new grant (and hence this site). Our business office would like to know which Creative Commons licence is most suitable. I was assuming Attribution 3.0 unported, since this allows sharing and remixing under attribution. On the face of it, a better alternative is Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, since this also requires that anyone using the research has to distribute their own work under a similar licence.

Anyone have any views on this for science research? Is the share-alike clause unduly restrictive? What if a company, reading results posted on these pages, would like to develop those results for a different for-profit reason that is unrelated to our original research interest - would a 'share-alike' licence prevent that?




jcbradley's picture

Mat - I would go with Attribution 3.0 Unported. The share-alike restriction may be a problem under some circumstances. I know that Peter Murray-Rust advocates that as well.

In practice I don't think that it makes that much difference at at least at this point in time. If someone wanted to create a commercial product using large amounts of my datasets I would hope that they would contact me anyway to discuss it. At that point if there are licensing issues they can be resolved. Most people now using "open data" are from the Open Science community and have every intention of keeping it non-commercial I think.

steelgraham's picture

Maybe one to run past John Wilbanks?

One important point to keep in kind about CC licenses is that they cover only **expression** (i.e. the arrangement of words in your article), not ideas. This is because the underlying copyright on which they are based covers only expression. So, whether the CC license was share-alike or not, a company could always take any scientific ideas they wanted in your article. For this reason, those who have wanted to have "viral" effects when others use their scientific ideas (e.g. Richard Jefferson and CAMBIA) have patented their ideas and attached the viral provisions to specific patent licenses.

So the bottom line is I don't think it really matters (for purposes of further **scientific** development) what CC license you put your work out under. Ordinary attribution (which would give you attribution if somebody chose to quote a chunk of the words in the article) is probably best.

A great memo from Science Commons on why scientific data should essentially be placed in the public domain.