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Statistics and Datasets: Copyright and datasets

A guide on who collects statistics and datasets and where to find statistics and datasets

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons copyright licences allow the legal sharing and reuse of creative content. They can enable sharing of open educational resources by allowing creators to share their work with varying conditions specifying permissions for reuse and adaptation by others.    

Creative Commons licences

The Attribution licence (CC BY) allows anyone to distribute and adapt a work, even commercially, as long as the original creator is credited. 

The Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) licence allows anyone to distribute and adapt a work, even for commercial purposes, as long as the original creator is credited and any adaptation is credited under identical terms.

The Attribution Non-Commerical (CC-BY-NC) licence lets anyone distribute or adapt a work as long as it is non-commercially and the original creator is acknowledged.

The Attribution No Derivatives (CC BY-ND) licence allows for anyone to distribute a work, even commercially, as long as the original creator is acknowledged and the work has not been adapted.

The Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (CC BY-NC-SA) licence lets anyone distribute and adapt a work non-commercially as long as the original creator is acknowledged and shared under identical terms.

The Attribution Non-Commercial  No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) licence allows anyone to distribute a work non-commercially as long as the original author is credited and it is not adapted in any way. 

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Copyright and Datasets

Copyright is defined in the Australian Copyright Act 1968 and International Copyright Treaties. Determining whether or not a dataset is protected by copyright can be a grey area. Strictly speaking, data or facts cannot be protected by copyright. However the arrangement of the data may be protected by copyright.

For best practice, make sure you abide by any restrictions on use set out by the creator or publisher of a dataset. This includes how you should attribute the dataset, if use must be non-commercial only, and whether you are permitted to modify or adapt the dataset.

Many datasets are made available under an open licence, such as Creative Commons. Open licences can restrict certain uses as well, so it is important to check the terms of each licence before working with the dataset. If you want to use the dataset in a way not permitted by the licence, you will need to seek permission from the creator or publisher of the dataset.

Open licences

Open licences permit people to use and share content. Some licences permit you to modify or adapt content. It is important to read the terms and conditions of an open licence as there are slight differences in the type of open licence applied to content.

The most common type of open licence scheme is Creative Commons, and we have provided further information to guide you in applying a CC licence. Other types of open licence schemes generally relate to software and include the following:

Attributing data

It's also important to attribute or give credit to any data that you use, share, modify or adapt.

Different referencing styles require different information and different data sources often request that you include certain details in your citation of their data. The Crosscite DOI Citation Formatter can help with this, but it's good practice to check with the dataset provider where possible.