Making Your Data Open: A Guide

What is Open Data?

Open data is data that anyone is free to use, reuse and redistribute without restriction (except, perhaps the requirements to attribute and sharealike). For precise details see

How Can I Make My Data Open?

  1. Make your data publicly available!
    • If your data isn’t publicly available then you make it hard for others to use it (or even decide whether to use it).
  2. Apply a suitable open data license.
    • Explicit licensing is essential to provide clarity and certainty to users and reusers (and is needed even if you want your data to be ‘public domain’).

How Do I License My Data?

Open Data Commons have already prepared a set of suitable licenses for you — all you need to do is apply one. The 2 basic options are:

  • Public Domain: Apply the Public Domain Dedication and License
    • Puts all your material in the ‘Public Domain’
  • Share-Alike (plus Attribution): Apply the Open Database License
    • Like the GPL (or CC Attribution Share-Alike) requires public reusers of your data to share back changes (and attribute).

NB: even though both these licenses tend to mention “Databases” rather than “Data” they are entirely suited to “data” — it is simply that in lawyers-speak the preferred term for a collection of information is “Database” rather than “data”.

To apply the license you would add a statement such as the following to your data (or place it on the page where it is available):

Public Domain Dedication and License

This {DATA(BASE)-NAME} is made available under the Public Domain Dedication and License version v1.0 whose full text can be found at

NB: you may also wish to apply some complementary Community Norms

Open Database License

This {DATA(BASE)-NAME} is made available under Open Database License whose full text can be found at Any rights in individual contents of the database are licensed under the Database Contents License whose text can be found

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