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Data Management Planning

A guide to best practices for managing research data, including links to data services available to CSU Fullerton.


At CSUF, faculty retain copyright for their research and materials they create, which can sometimes include data. However, data that is factual has no copyright protection under U.S. law as it is not possible to copyright facts. On the other hand, copyright and intellectual property laws do apply to assemblages of data, code, and other research outputs. Deciding what data needs to be included in a database, how to organize the data, and how to relate different data elements are all creative decisions that may receive copyright protection. Copyright can govern the use of databases and some data content (that which is itself original), but other mechanisms are required to regulate factual data.

To learn more about the CSUF Copyright Policy read more at the CSUF Copyright Statement Guide.

Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights in Data

Sharing one’s research data implies that others may examine, download, and/or use that data in the future. To ensure that data are available for use and reuse requires proper licensing or waivers that enable these activities.

There are three ways to address data rights.

  1. Contracts: For researchers concerned with how with their data might be used, contracts allow for complete customization. Contracts may reduce the long-term value of a dataset if the contract makes it difficult to reuse the data.
  2. Licensing: Licensing facilitates data reuse as the terms are universal.
  3. Waivers: Researchers can waive rights to their data thus putting the data in the public domain and allowing unrestricted use. This method maximizes data use but makes attribution more difficult.

Waivers and licenses should be machine-readable, without requirements to contact the author or restrict use.


Licenses define what others may or may not do with your data. There are a variety of licenses available which allow for different uses of the data. Some licenses allow anyone to do whatever they like with your data while others restrict their use to non-commercial activities and require creator attribution.

There are two main sources for licensing, Creative Commons and Open Data Commons.

There are also specific licenses available for open source software, which you can find at

Open Knowledge Foundation

ODC offers three license options that were created specifically for data and databases using copyright and contractual standards. ODC provides information on how these licenses differ from Creative Common licenses in their application to data and databases. 

Three ODC Licenses Available:

  1. Public Domain Dedication and License (PDDL): The PDDL places the data(base) in the public domain (waiving all rights).
  2. Attribution License (ODC-By): Users must attribute any public use of the data(base) or works produced from the data to the source of the data(base). With attribution, they are permitted to share, create, and adapt the data(base).
  3. Open Database License (ODC-ODbL): Users can share, create, and adapt the data(base) if they attribute the source of the data(base), share with the same ODbl license, and keep the adapted version open. 

Creative Commons

Creative Commons offers seven standardized licenses that allow different creator rights and uses. Only some of these licenses apply to data and databases. CC licenses, require copyright ownership of the underlying work, whereas the ODC licenses apply to works not protected by copyright (such as factual data)

The two CC licenses that are of greatest relevance to data management are:

  1. CC0 (i.e., "CC Zero"): The CC0 mark places the data(base) in the public domain (waiving all rights). It is the functional equivalent of an ODC PDDL license.
  2. Public Domain mark (PDM): The PDM states that there is no known copyright on the data or database and it is in the public domain.

Creative Commons provides a guide on how to use their licenses with data and databases.