I am teaching an analytics course, writing a book on R, a free statistical package. The book will show how to use R while analyzing government datasets at the Data.gov site.

I would like to rest assured that book readers get the dataset. I am thinking to ask readers to download specific datasets from the site. In case the datasets disappear from the site, I would like to make them available in some other ways like posting them on the Internet.

I believe I can use government datasets in my book. But I am not sure whether I can post the datasets on the Internet. I would also appreciate it if you inform me of a better way, if there is, than posting them.

  • Does data.gov not have any information about licensing? I find that hard to believe. What research have you done and where are you stuck specifically?
    – user4293
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


You can do whatever you like with data from data.gov. Specifically:

Secondary Use
Federal data accessed through Data.gov do not, and should not, include controls over its end use. Once the data have been downloaded from the agency’s site, the government cannot vouch for their quality and timeliness. Furthermore, the U.S. Government cannot vouch for any analyses conducted with data retrieved from Data.gov.

Privacy and Website Policies .

Here's what I would do:
Save all of the data and store it in GitHub. Now its backed up, versioned, and accessible to all.
Note: You don't have to know anything about Git/GitHub to do this; it can all be accomplished from the browser.
Save all of the URLs around the data in the Wayback Machine; when I say around I mean not just the paths to the datasets; the paths that explain/introduce the datasets, etc. Data.gov is a great asset but they do not maintain those datasets; they maintain the portal, users maintain them and unfortunately there is a lot of linkrot. I prefer having everything together in a repository; it makes things much more maintainable; I think your students/users will appreciate that too.

  • 1
    Excellent recommendations about preventing linkrot. There's nothing more frustrating to a student following a tutorial than finding that the data isn't available anymore.
    – csk
    Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 16:46
  • 1
    Another page on US govt data licensing: usa.gov/government-works
    – user3856
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 17:13

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