Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

Creative Commons Zero (CC0) is for dedicating works to the public domain and is used by Dryad and other data repositories.

CC0 works on two levels: as a waiver of a person's rights to the work, and in case that is not effective, as an irrevocable, royalty-free and unconditional licence for anyone to use the work for any purpose. In Australia we always have moral rights (which includes the right to attribution) so the waiver is ‘ineffective’ i.e.CC0 waives all copyright and related rights to the fullest extend allowed by the law of the land. There are pros and cons for this approach and researchers need to decide what best meets their needs.

As the Digital Curation Centre suggests, this can be an ‘unattractive option for data whose creators have yet to fully exploit them, either academically or commercially. Nevertheless, it does resolve many of the ambiguities surrounding data use and reuse ... and greatly simplifies integration with other data.’

Dryad also argues that CC0 reduces the legal and technical impediments to data re-use. Imagine, for example, the difficulties you would encounter if you were mining multiple sources for data and were legally required to formally attribute all of the data owners. Community norms for scholarly communication are a more effective way of encouraging positive behaviour, such as data citation, than applying licences and that ‘Any publication that makes substantive reuse of the data is expected to cite both the data package and the original publication from which it was derived.’

The Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL) is similar to CC0, but is worded specifically in database terms. There is also the Open Data Commons Database Contents Licence (ODC-DbCL), which waives copyright for the contents of the database without affecting the copyright or database right of the database itself.

Diagram indicating the different levels and permissions of Creative Commons licenses

Attribution: Shaddim; original CC license symbols by Creative Commons, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons