I'm dimly aware that there are differences in legal treatment of data collections (e.g. a telephone book, or map data like OpenStreetMap) as compared to, say, a novel or a program. For works like novels (and to some extent collections like Wikipedia and SE contents) the Creative Commons licenses are a good fit. For programs there is a plethora of open source/free software licenses. But I know of next to no similarly open licenses for data sets, except for the Open Data Commons Open Database License ODbl.

Could anybody share their insights, and perhaps point to some "choose your license" summary?

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    While I think this is a little bit broad, I do see an excellent question here. There aren't many resources on this topic, and it would be great to have one here.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 1:28
  • @Zizouz212, I know the question is very broad, and faintly off-topic, as it is about data licenses, not source (code).
    – vonbrand
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 1:30
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    It's an on-topic question, it's highlighted in the tour and other parts, but the only issue is the broadness, but I think it should be fine. I'm kind of interested in how it works out. Open Data SE might also be of interest.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 1:31
  • The question is too broad. Additionally I think there are problem about "copyright" of data collections: AFAIK it is restricted in few countries, and with broader restriction, so a license would be mostly ineffective. Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 15:55
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi, I'd certainly also like to be enlightened on the relevant laws.
    – vonbrand
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


The OpenDefinition is a good source for this and deals specifically with data and content:

The Open Definition gives full details on the requirements for ‘open’ data and content. Open data are the building blocks of open knowledge. Open knowledge is what open data becomes when it’s useful, usable and used.

And they provide a list of licenses that conform with their definition including the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL) beyond the CC licenses and the ODbl you mentioned. Several other licenses are listed with some commentaries that should guide in picking the best one for you.

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