Licensing Requirement Information found in Linked Open Data

In 2009, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web recorded the following TED Presentation about Linked Open Data.

This video describes his next idea for a use for the Web, where Data is shared and can flow freely, published by people under open licenses.

On the L4LOD Vocabulary Specification 0.2 is Information about the different licenses over the data sets of the LOD cloud.

I’ve shared links to and information about the Open licenses that data there has been published under below, so that the information can be shared and it can help encourage others to create using Linked Data, and to share data under Open data licenses like the ones described..

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons website isn’t aimed at replacing copyright, but instead describes different types of licenses that you can attach to creative works that you create that are protected by copyright, and these licenses describe the kinds of rights others have in using those works. These licenses were created in a way that is readable by people and by machines, and each license should be read carefully before being applied by a copyright holder for them to understand what rights in the works they are giving to other people.

By Choosing a Creative Common’s license, you are defining and describing the conditions that you are enabling people to use material that you own copyright in.

Attribution is a requirement of how a user must give credit for the use of the material and can require linking back to the source of the material and the license used, including the title of the work and its author, and stating whether or not changes were made to the work. A Creative Commons license can state whether the work can be used in a commercial manner or can only be used non-commercially.

It also tells whether a work can be used in a derivative manner, being remixed or reshaped somehow. The following are four license types that a copyright holder in a work can release the content under. You should read these licenses carefully, and have someone with some legal training available to explain them to you more fully if you have questions about them.

Creative Commons Attribution
Creative Comons Attribution Share-Alike
Creative Commons CCZero
Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution

Public Domain

Public Domain works are creations where intellectual property law such as copyright doesn’t apply to them because it is considered to be property that belongs to the public, and is not subject to being copyrighted.

Copyright may have expired on these works or it may have been created by the government, in a manner where the ownership of the property could be said to belong to the government, in a work for hire manner by the people who created the work – for example the posters created under the WPA program in the United States

Open Data Commons

“Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.” ~ From the Open Data Handbook.

Much Linked Open Data is Open Data that originates from the Government. If you are potentially interested in using this data in a work online involving linked data, you should learn about your rights to use this data by reading the Open Data Handbook.

The Open Data Commons Group recommends that data be released with a license that tells others how it can be used, and offers the following descriptions of licenses:

ODC Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL)
Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL)
Open Data Commons Attribution License

GNU Free Documentation

The authors of this licensing approach have this to say about it:

This License is a kind of “copyleft”, which means that derivative works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license designed for free


This licensing approach was developed for free software, and the document version is intended for documents that might go with such free software. What they tell us is of a use that can be much broader:

But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference

GNU Free Documentation License

In Closing

One of the strengths of the Semantic Web is how data is shared freely in Open Data formats. The ‘O’ in LOD may stand for “Open” as in “Linked Open Data”, but it also stands for “Opportunity.” There’s a lot of data available out there offered through a number of Open formats just waiting to be used.

Other Linked Data Resources

Linked Data – The Story So Far
Linked Data Evolving the Web into a Global Data Space

A Hat Tip and a Thanks to Barbara Starr who suggested creating a post looking at Open Licenses for Linked Data, after making me aware that there weren’t many resources available on the topic.

Article Name
Licensing Requirement Information found in Linked Open Data
A look at the licensing approaches that linked Open Data has been published to the Web through, which shows how available that data may be for its use on Web pages and in apps.

14 thoughts on “Licensing Requirement Information found in Linked Open Data”

  1. Hi Tom (Translation services),

    A lot of the inspiration for many people to come online is to find stuff for free, including free information. The Web crosses over national and State boundaries, and it is possible that laws protecting intellectual property may need to be transformed to reflect things that people are actually doing. That’s part of the beauty of things like creative common’s licenses, which enable people to use other people’s creations after following the terms of the licenses selected.

  2. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the great post on licensing requirement information found in linked open data. As you already mentioned that such data is not available on Internet which relates to Linked Open Data licensing information requirement.

  3. Hi Sabrez, I am going to try to re-introduce a lot more of the details of these licenses in the future in ways that might prove to be more helpful.

  4. I think some clarification would be great when it comes to licenses on the internet. Specifically, I’ve seen many people suggest using Creative Commons photo images, but every time I’ve looked into it, I’ve come away confused about where exactly the images can be used and what kind of attribution is required. Thanks for the helpful post!

  5. Thank you, Mike.

    I appreciate your pointing out some of the issues you’ve been having with using photos under a creative commons license. I’ve been thinking of expanding upon that specific topic to make it even easier.

  6. Linked open data is the natural byproduct of internet and the intention behind such a wide network i.e to make data and information share-able with out any obstacles, cost or otherwise. I absolutely welcome more and more copy right free and valuable content available for everybody.

  7. Interesting article!

    As part of the Andover news and info project we like to be the first to get news out but work with other media to spread it around so residents get the benefit.

    Whilst the images remain ours or the other media agency, we do share each others (with a thank you) so it is a bit like having our own Creative Commons License.


  8. very useful article. now i understand licence is not same as copyright. very clearly explanation about –
    Creative Commons, Public Domain, Open Data Commons and license.

  9. Hi Veenay,

    I’m going to try to give some more details on some of the others as well. Happy to hear that you have found it useful so far.

  10. Thanks a lot for useful and clear information about Creative Commons, Public Domain, Open Data Commons and license.keep sharing.

  11. Hi, thanks for the post. I launched a personal blog and I have some issues with crediting the images. I am still in doubt of how to correctly use the images, but I think I am on the good way. I guess that a more in depth article would be great for many people like me! Anyway, thanks for the information shared. Also, Tim is one of my favorite so I watched the entire presentation.

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