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Aug 8, 2018

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Creative Commons 4.0: it's here!

Aug 8, 2018

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright: they work alongside existing copyright and database rights and enable creators to modify permissions and conditions to best suit their needs. With regards to scientific content, one of the most important rights particularly relevant to EU is the database protection right aka sui generis database rights (SGDR). 


OpenAIRE recommends using the CC licenses  license for research data:

'We are very pleased to see the release of this new version 4.0 of the Creative Commons Public License (CCPL). As authors of a legal and licensing report for OpenAIRE, we have highly recommended this new version as a fitting license for an infrastructure such as OpenAIRE to allow the open flow of data to and from such a service - from now on OpenAIRE should license all its own content under CC BY 4.0 and encourage other data providers such as repositories for data and publications to do the same.' - The OpenAIRE legal team*

After a public consultation process of more than two years, Creative Commons states that the new version of their license is especially suited for use in the European Union: "The 4.0 licenses are extremely well-suited for use by governments and publishers of public sector information and other data, especially for those in the European Union. This is due to the expansion in license scope, which now covers sui generis database rights that exist there and in a handful of other countries."

We asked Creative Commons HQ for more details.

When it comes to scientific research, what are the main improvements of CC 4.0 compared with CC 3.0?

CC 4.0 now covers database rights, also known as sui generis database rights (SGDR) that are very relevant in the EU context. That means a database creator based in the EU can use a CC 4.0 license allowing use of the database relieving an EU-based user of any worries that she might be violating SGDR.

CC 4.0 also makes attribution much easier by making attribution requirements more flexible. The user can provide attribution "in any reasonable manner based on the medium, means, and context in which You Share the Licensed Material." This means that attribution can be completed by including URI to another page that has all the information needed. This may be attractive to scientific researchers, especially those applying licenses to data, where it might be impractical to include all details and contributors alongside the data itself.

The new licenses now require users to indicate if licensed material has been modified, even when doing so hasn't created an adaptation. In the data context, this puts downstream users on notice that the database has been modified. Ideally, the person who made the changes indicates just what has been changed, but at the very least, it indicates to the user that she may want to consult with the original version of the database. This preserves provenance, which is important in science.

How can the new CC 4.0 license facilitate open access to European Research?

A globally recognizable license brings instant recognition and assurance of the legal status and interoperability of the content. Researchers in EU can rest assured rights and permissions in their work will be recognized easily by users outside EU, and EU researchers can use CC marked works from anywhere in the world. This is not specific to CC 4.0, but is a general CC characteristic. Of course, CC 4.0's inclusion of SGDR now makes this interoperability more extensive.

Can researchers use CC 4.0 to license all types of research data sets?

Indeed. CC 4.0 licenses may be used for any material that has copyright, database rights or certain other rights. We still recommend CC0 Public Domain Dedication as the default for scientific data (both for STEM and for HSS) as it essentially removes the legal requirement for attribution thereby making reuse most easy and flexible. In places and situations where a license may be more desirable, CC BY 4.0 is a good choice. We don't recommend anything less 'liberal' than those two, however, CC BY SA 4.0 would also be conformant with the Open Knowledge Definition.

What if someone violates the license?

That question is not specific to CC licenses. If someone violates the license, either you grin and bear it, or shame the person, or, if it is really worth your time and money, set your lawyers on that person. In this context, even the default copyright license operates similarly. Note that while Creative Commons creates, offers and stewards the licenses, it does not offer legal advice and does not undertake legal action on behalf of the users of its licenses.

Just like the earlier versions, CC 4.0 license terms terminate automatically if they are violated. However, CC 4.0 does have a new cure clause which gives the violator 30 days from the time violation is discovered to cure the violation and have the license terms reinstated.

Want to know more about CC? Visit the Creative Commons website.

For more details about OpenAIRE recommending CC, please refer to the summary of the OpenAIRE legal study.

* Contributors to the OpenAIRE legal study: Andreas Wiebe; Thomas Margoni ; Nils Dietrich ; Gerald Spindler ; Lucie Guibault and Krzysztof Siewicz

Image 'It's here' licensed under CC BY 4.0