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# Introduction and license of this document When publishing products of a scientific endeavour, it is wise to make a deliberate choice as to which license you wish to instate. This document is meant to provide a brief introduction intro licensing. This document is written by Gjalt-Jorn Peters and licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license (CC0; click [this link]( for more information). If you would like to contribute, please use [OSF's "Request Access" functionality]( so you can edit this wiki page. # License basics A license governs what people are allowed to do with a product. Licenses are intended to save time and effort: people will know the rights they have without having to bother you. However, licenses don't normally restrict *you* from granting additional rights. As a backdrop for the discussion of licenses, it is useful to start with the two most well-known licenses, because these can be considered useful extremes on the 'licensing scale'. ## Public domain The first one is the most basic license, and its existence is more a formality than anything else: the so-called Public Domain license. If something is in the public domain, that means everybody can do with it whatever they want (within legal constraints; see Other Information at [this page]( If intellectual property law would not exist, everything that would be produced or invented would be in the public domain. So, on the one hand this "public domain license" is definitely the license most people are most familiar with; but on the other hand, most people will not even be aware that this is a license. The public domain license can be considered the most 'permissive' license: it's the license with the least restrictions imposed. ## Copyright Intellectual property (IP) law turns things around (in most countries) by introducing the second well-known license: copyright. IP legislation usually holds that anything that is produced is copyrighted by the creator unless specified otherwise (data being the notable exception; data are defined as facts, and [facts cannot be copyrighted](, but are legally defined as existing in the public domain in most jurisdictions). The copyright license is the opposite of the public domain license, in that it is one of the least permissive licenses. It basically gives the creator of a product the exclusive rights to determine whether, and under what conditions, a product can be used by others. Therefore, unless accompanied by such a specification, this means that the product cannot be used by anybody else (unless this falls under, for example, 'fair use'). ## Creative Commons The Free and Open Source Software community has already spawned a number of other licenses (such as the MIT license or the Apache license), but these were quite specifically geared towards software. In 2002, the [Creative Commons]( licenses were published, which make it easy to license your work more permissively than under the traditional copyright license, in a way that's accessible but flexible, without needing to consult a lawyer. These licenses are very applicable to products of a scientific endeavour. These licenses combine four specific (limitations to) rights and conditions: - Attribution (BY): Anybody using the product must attribute the original creator. - No derivative works (ND): Nobody may take this product and change it; so it may only be copied/distributed 'as is'. - Non-commercial (NC): This product may not be copied, distributed or altered for commercial purposes. - Share-Alike (SA): This product may be copied, distributed, and changed, but any derivative products must be published under the same (Share-Alike) license. This boils down to a 'pay it forward' model of sharing. These features combine into six specific licenses (and a 'name' for releasing something into the public domain): - CC-BY: Attribution - CC-BY-ND: Attribution-NoDerivs - CC-BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial - CC-BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike - CC-BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike - CC-BY-NC-ND: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs - CC0: You can use this license to release something into the public domain (i.e. waiving all rights). These Creative Commons licenses are listed [here]( # Links to more information Lists of licenses: - - -