Datasets will be protected by copyright (and defined as ‘literary works’ under the Australian Copyright Act) if they meet certain threshold criteria of human authorship, originality, or creativity. Basically, compiling and presenting raw data (e.g. adding labels, units, performing calculations etc) is often sufficient to attract copyright protection. Copyright in research data produced at JCU is governed by JCU's Intellectual Property Policy and Procedure.

The Australian Research Data Commons Research Data Rights Management Guide provides the following example of the relationship between copyright and research data.

If a data logging machine placed in a creek were to generate 'raw data' about (for example) water quality, that data would not attract copyright protection, despite the fact that researchers may have used considerable skill, effort and expertise in siting the machine. Since the 'raw' data itself would have no human authorship and originality, it would not satisfy the legal basis of copyright. However, if a researcher were to examine the data from the data logging machine, notes certain errors and makes corrections to the data, or reforms the selection and arrangement of the dataset; that (sometimes relatively minor) act of human authorship, originality, and application of skill and judgment may be sufficient for the resulting dataset to attract copyright protection.

Even if your data does not meet the threshold for copyright there is no harm in applying a Creative Commons licence when publishing the data. It lets others know how you would like to be attributed and applies a limitation of liability and warranty clause to the data.

Refer also to Moral Rights and the Library website for further information about Copyright.

Diagram indicating when copyright applies to data