Setting terms and conditions for re-use of your data; public domain dedications and copyright waivers; open licensing frameworks, including Creative Commons; restricted access agreements.

Some rights reserved: standard open licences
Some rights reserved: restricted licences and custom re-use agreement
No rights reserved: copyright waivers and public domain dedications
All rights reserved: relying on the Copyright Act

Note: This information relates to situations in which you, as a Monash researcher, plan to disseminate data that you own to others. For information about your re-use of other people's data, see the guidelines on ownership of copyright and intellectual property.

When you disseminate data that you own or manage, you need to think about how you want others to re-use your data and communicate any terms and conditions that you want re-users of your data to follow. There are a number of approaches that you can take to this, from very open to reasonably restricted.

Regardless of which approach you take, you should ensure that:

  • the ownership of the data is clarified, and that you have the right to make the data available
  • you have considered any commercial implications of making your data available. Data that has been made available is considered to be ‘disclosed' and cannot be used to support a patent application.

Some rights reserved: standard open licences

For openly accessible data, a standard open licence is the most effective way of ensuring appropriate re-use. An open licence enables you to reserve some rights as the owner of the material, but to grant re-users more rights than would be available just under copyright legislation. Adopting a standard licence is often a pre-condition to depositing in a repository or archive, but licences can also be applied to resources disseminated via the web or other means.

Monash researchers are encouraged to consider using open licences. Licences enable you to clearly indicate to others your ownership of the data, and your wishes about the ways in which the data can be re-used and how you want to be attributed.

Information on licensing options and frameworks is available on the Copyright intranet

Some rights reserved: restricted licences and custom re-use agreement

Where you would like to make your data available but only under certain conditions or by negotiation, you can use a restrictive licence or other written agreement (such as a Data Transfer Agreement). You may consider this approach when data contains personal or other confidential information, or when you want to impose some other type of limit or condition such as a time limit on use or some form of payment option.

Agreements of this kind might be constructed from a model template such as the Restricted Licence Template within the Australian Government Open Access Licensing Framework.

In other situations, a bespoke agreement needs to be developed for you especially to meet the requirements of a specific project. Examples of this approach include:

While a restricted licence can provide you with more protection and enables you to be more specific about terms and conditions, it can also be time-consuming and, if legal advice is required, expensive.

For more information about restricted licences or other agreements, contact the Library. Referral to the University Solicitor or to relevant staff in the Industry Engagement and Commercialisation Group can also be facilitated, where necessary.

No rights reserved: copyright waivers and public domain dedications

Some types of licence or agreements enable researchers to place their work in the public domain. In a legal sense, placing work in the public domain means that as the owner of the data, you are waiving all your rights and protections offered by copyright.

Proponents of this approach argue that different copyright regimes in different jurisdictions, and other legal rights used to protect databases and data, make it practically difficult to share data. They argue that waivers and licences that eliminate all the rights of the owners are preferred, particularly in fields of study where large-scale data integration from different sources is required, e.g. in biological sciences. Multiple sets of terms and conditions make integration difficult and no one licensing framework can usually cover the proposed re-use of integrated sources.

It is currently not recommended that Monash researchers waive rights to their data collections without considering the implications of this. At a minimum, you should seek to retain the right to be attributed as the creator of the data, since standards and tools for data citation are emerging, and in future citation of data may be an important metric for research impact.

If you strongly want to, or are required by an archive or repository to, use a copyright waiver or public domain dedication, you should find out whether any "community norms" statements can be applied: these will not be legally binding but can signal your wishes to potential re-users around attribution, where this is practical for the re-users.

All rights reserved: relying on the Copyright Act

You can reserve all your rights under the Copyright Act. This means that people can view and download a copy of the data for private research and study only, and that you must be attributed as the owner or creator of the data. Potential re-users need to contact you to ask for permission for any other type of activity, including re-publishing.

While reserving all your rights can be useful for publications, in the case of data it could limit the research impact of your work by restricting users from undertaking some common research activities, such as deriving data or aggregation of your data with other datasets.

If your goals in disseminating your data are to facilitate the greatest re-use of the data, then applying an open licence or restrictive licence will be more effective than relying on copyright legislation.