BioMed Central proposes CC0 for published data

12 September, 2012

BioMed Central Research Notes has published, in provisional form, a White Paper on the licensing of open access research papers and data.

It proposes a model whereby authors publishing in an open access journal agree to license the text of their paper using a Creative Commons Attribution licence, and to apply the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) waiver and licence to the data published within and alongside it.

The paper makes for an interesting read. It begins by explaining the motivation for the model. The arguments will be familiar to some readers: restricting the commercial use of research can damage its impact more than an author might envision; the legal position of unlicensed data is hopelessly complicated when considered internationally; and even the permissive conditions of an attribution-only licence may render a dataset impossible to cite and therefore to use.
The paper goes on, however, to answer in a clear and concise fashion some common concerns about using CC0 for data. It argues that removing a legal requirement to attribute data to its source need not harm an author’s citation count, as the latter is more rooted in culture than the law, nor is it likely to encourage plagiarism. It also discusses the trade-off between sharing and privately exploiting data.
The paper concludes by dealing with some of the more pragmatic issues of the proposed dual approach. Not least of these is how to determine which parts of a publication should be considered data, and therefore come under the CC0 waiver rather than the CC-BY licence. Do have a look at the proposed definitions and see if you agree.
In fact the authors of the paper, Iain Hrynaszkiewicz and Matthew Cockerill, are keen to hear what the community thinks about the proposed model and the effect it might have on research. To pass on your views, head over to the BioMed Central blog before 10 November 2012 and make your voice heard. 
The White Paper is an outcome of the Publishing Open Data Working Group meeting we reported on in 2011.