Many public datasets are published under licenses that require attribution, such as CC-BY. If I have a public SPARQL endpoint, and allow federated queries to access data from such endpoint, that means that a query result can contain data that is under CC-BY. However, as far as I understand, there's no standard way to incorporate attribution into SPARQL results, even not counting the hassle of actually figuring out the fact that federated query is being used and what kind of attribution each of federated endpoints require.

So, the question is - what is the best practice for complying with attribution license in such scenario? As the endpoint is public, the combined data can be reused anywhere (so it can plausibly be considered redistributing?) but I see no way to ensure CC-BY compliance (unless I misunderstand its requirements). Does it mean that attribution-licensed data can not be feasibly used in data federation scenarios? Or does it mean attribution requirement does not apply to such scenario, or should be satisfied by the end user of the data (such as publishing the results of a federated query in a paper) and not by intermediary tools processing the data?


2 Answers 2


I think you should use the OBDL license on your endpoint. State this for the "Contents" providers:

We do not claim any rights over the information we receive from our sources, and attribute them whenever possible. This is known as the "Contents" in the ODbL license.

Then the points 2.4 and 4.4 in the ODBL license cover relationship to Content and Attribution to it.

  • The endpoint is licensed under CC0, it's using the data from other endpoints with different licenses is the problem here.
    – StasM
    Mar 14, 2017 at 1:08
  • 1
    Well, you can't do that. You need one license for the endpoint, a database license of some kind, covering the rights or the database behind. And separate license(s). For the contents. Meaning you can not push your CC0 over information you obtain as CC-BY. A good example: grantnav.threesixtygiving.org/datasets/#copyright
    – marfi
    Mar 14, 2017 at 7:45

IANAL, but I would see a SPARQL end-point as either an adaption or collection, and CC-BY states in section 4b:

[...] The credit required by this Section 4 (b) may be implemented in any reasonable manner; provided, however, that in the case of a Adaptation or Collection, at a minimum such credit will appear, if a credit for all contributing authors of the Adaptation or Collection appears, then as part of these credits and in a manner at least as prominent as the credits for the other contributing authors. [...]

So, I read that, if you provide a copyright page for your service, that you can include the repective attribution statements in that.


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