In order to release the data as open it should come with a license. In the open world, there are differente licenses for different purposes (GPL, MIT, BSD licenses for Software - OpenSource; Creative Commons for artwork - sogns, text, images, videos; even GFDL can be used for documentation) but it is not always clear which are the possible license to release correctly data as open.

OpenStreetMap had this issue with its huge database, and changed the license from CC to ODbL. However, if I want to release a dataset, for example a CSV with some information, it is not a database.

Which license can I use?

2 Answers 2


In the OpenDefinition site which is part of the OpenKnowledge Foundation, there is a list of licenses that can be considered as OpenData, and it indicates in which cases it should be used:


  • Creative Commons CCZero (CC0)
  • Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL)
  • Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY-4.0)
  • Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-BY)
  • Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 (CC-BY-SA-4.0)
  • Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL)

The datasets published in Zenodo I recently looked at had CC licenses. Here is a search for all open datasets in Zenodo. When you search in re3data (repository of research data repositories) and try to drill down the search by the licenses offered by the listed repositories, you currently get this result: screenshot of the drill down by license option of re3data

  • According to your post, the most appropriated license will be ODC opendatacommons.org/licenses/by/1-0 because it is designed for data, no for software, code, documents nor databases.
    – AngocA
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 1:17
  • 1
    Creative Comments licenses might also be used. Note that not every part of the data/database might be protected by any license, see e.g. wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/…. A simple CSV sheet with raw data might not need any license. Commented May 2, 2017 at 1:50
  • Interesting what CC says about that (facts). About the CSV, it depends what is stored in the file; as you said, it might not have a license (it they are facts).
    – AngocA
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 3:33

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