In compliance with intellectual property rights, and unless third-party rights, legal requirements, Rectorate decisions, other reasonable interests or property laws prohibit it, research data should be assigned an open use license.

Policy for Research Data Management (RDM) at the TU Wien

TU Wien, 2018, page 3

Funding bodies are equally in favour of this stipulation. It is important to note that only free licences meet the criteria for open data. Helpful suggestions on the topic of licencing are listed below.

What you need to know about licensing research data

Raw data or primary data can only be protected by copyright in exceptional cases. This is the case because machine-generated data do not constitute a peculiar intellectual creation, which is the prerequisite for a property right. Although it is possible to have raw data protected as a collective work, protection then relates only to the composition of the data and not to the data themselves. The possibility of copyright protection must be examined separately in each case. Data which do not constitute a peculiar intellectual creation cannot be licensed either.

The following remarks apply exclusively to research data which is protected by copyright.

By granting a licence, you allow others to use your research data. The type of licence you grant informs those who have found your data what they are allowed to do with the data. The licensor always determines the extent to which the data may be used. This can range from open to all rights reserved.

Licences for a data set may only be issued by the owner of that data set. Owners can be natural or legal persons. In the case of a legal entity, a natural person must be named as an official representative.

Please note that individual researchers do not grant licences, but rather the authorised representative of the TU Wien (the institute board of directors or head of research). It is always possible to obtain the right to be named as the author.

In the event of several authors, all authors are entitled to make joint decisions and to appoint a representative. When uploading data to a repository, this representative is known as the "responsible person."

Creative Commons licences allow licensors to expressly offer their research data for further use in accordance with the stipulations of the licence. In a scientific context, CC licences provide legal protection worldwide and comply with open access principles. CC licences make research results easily accessible and usable, without requiring users to ask owners explicitly for permission. For this reason, it is likely that you and your work will be cited more frequently.

CC licences do not vary according to medium and are applicable to any and all works protected by copyright laws. The various Creative Commons licences vary significantly. Some CC licences greatly restrict further use, while others promote openness. An overview of the different types of CC licences can be found on the Creative Commons, opens an external URL in a new window website.

CC licences cannot be issued for raw research data, such as measurements from weather satellites or other measurement data. This data is not copyrighted, as it cannot be owned. For research data which is not measurement-generated, it depends largely on whether the specific research data is copyrighted or not. If your research data is copyrighted, it can be included in a CC licence. There is no general rule which determines whether or not research data is copyrighted. A case-by-case review is always required.

See also: FAQs zu Creative-Commons-Lizenzen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Wissenschaft, opens an external URL in a new window (report only available in German)

Please note that individual researchers do not grant licences, but rather the authorised representative of the TU Wien (Head of the Institute or Head of the Research Unit).

No, software should not be licenced with Creative Commons. Unlike software-specific licences, CC licences do not include explicit rules for distributing source code, which is often important to ensure the free reuse and changeability of the software. Many software licences also stem from patent rights, which are important to the software, but may not apply to other copyrighted works.

When choosing a suitable and secure licence, the Public Licence Selector may be helpful. We recommend using a software licence which is either provided by the Free Software Foundation or listed as open source by the Open Source Initiative, opens an external URL in a new window. A commonly used free licence for source codes and software is the GNU General Public Licence (GPL, opens an external URL in a new window).

Please note that individual researchers do not grant licences, but rather the authorised representative of the TU Wien (Head of the Institute or Head of the Research Unit).

Yes, CC licences can be used for databases. In the 4.0 version of Creative Commons, the sui generis database rights are licenced according to the same conditions as copyrights. (Note: Sui generis database law protects databases in which significant investments have been made to obtain, review and present data.)

Detailed information on how CC licences apply to data and databases can be found in the Creative Commons Wiki, opens an external URL in a new window.

Please note that individual researchers do not grant licences, but rather the authorised representative of the TU Wien (the institute board of directors or head of research).

If you reuse data which already has a CC licence, and plan to acquire a less restrictive and more open CC licence, please carefully consider the following:

  • If more than one licence is acquired for the data, they must not only be compatible, but the new data set must always hold the more restrictive of the chosen licences. 
  • The licence CC BY SA does not allow already-licenced data to be published with any other licences, as the main stipulation of this licence is that the data will continue to be available in the future and in edited versions under the exact same conditions.
  • Licences which stipulate no derivatives allow the reuse of data only in its original form. A combination with other data already constitutes a change and is therefore not allowed, nor is publication under a different licence.

These examples show that the use of more restrictive licences greatly restricts the reuse of data. For this reason, please choose licences which are as open as possible.

Further possible combinations can be found in the CC License Compatibility Chart., opens an external URL in a new window

Free licences are valid worldwide and cannot be converted into more restrictive licences. Free licences allow copying, distributing, using and editing the data, as well as using it for commercial purposes. However, since the copyright always remains with you, your name must be cited every time the data is used.

In the scientific community, the Creative Commons licences CC BY 4.0, opens an external URL in a new window and the CC0, opens an external URL in a new window are frequently used as free licences. Some funding bodies specifically suggest these licences.


The licence CC BY 4.0 allows users to do the following with the data:

  • share – i.e. replicate and redistribute the material in any format or medium
  • edit – i.e. remix the material and build on it for any purpose, even commercially

The licensor cannot revoke a licence as long as the user complies with the following licence terms:

  • provides adequate copyright and rights information (attribution)
  • attaches a link to the licence
  • makes known whether changes have been made

This information may be provided in any appropriate manner, but not in such a way as to give the impression that the licensor especially supports a user or use in particular.

To be clear, authorship is never lost when awarding a CC licence. CC licencing in no way takes away your rights as an author, but simply awards certain rights to others.


Using CC0 instead of CC BY for metadata has the advantage that search engines will find such public domain content more easily, which facilitates the dissemination and maximum discoverability of your data.

In many areas it has become common to make data and metadata freely available to the public under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0) licence. The CC0 licence promotes a public domain dedication, in other words, metadata may be used without restriction and without further permission.

CC0 is a tool which frees metadata worldwide from copyright restrictions. Even attribution is no longer necessary in this case. In some legal systems, metadata per se is free from copyright.


our icon for "licenses": symbolic representation of a key with the letters "CC" on the handle

Please note:

The aforementioned information should be regarded as a helpful introduction to licencing. There is no general rule for knowing whether or not research data is copyrighted, and if in doubt, legal case-by-case review may be necessary.

Good to know