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Copyright in Research Data

Understand the issues associated with using and creating your data

There is a growing requirement from research funders to formally archive and share research data of long-term value arising from projects. When releasing data in this manner it will fall under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, where the original owner retains the copyright.

Fair dealing

Data can be copied for non-commercial teaching or research purposes, private study, criticism or review without infringing copyright, provided that the owner of the work is sufficiently acknowledged. (This does not apply to films or recordings.)

Licensing and data sharing

Applying a licence to archived data communicates permissions to potential reuers of the data, which can range from wavering all rights to applying severe restrictions. This will depend on how you want the data to be reused in the future.

Before deciding on what licence to apply it is worth considering:

  • If the research funder requires a certain licence applied; or
  • If the original data was obtained from a third party, there may be a requirement to match the existing licence or a restriction on sharing derivatives of the dataset.

The Research Data Management team has an overview of the license options for data. 

Database rights 

A database means a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in systematics or methodical way. For a database rights to apply, the database must be result of substantial intellectual investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the content in an original manner.

Database rights are protected for 15 years in the EU and will protect from extraction (copying) of substantial amount of data, or repeated extraction of insubstantial amount.