Data Licenses


The Data Center asks each data provider to assign a license to each database they share. Data licenses are important in that they allow data users to understand conditions under which data can be re-used. Data licenses can be found in the metadata record for each database on our open data repository.

We encourage data providers to have a conversation with data users along with internal stakeholders when it comes to deciding how to license data.

It can also be instructive to learn more about how other data providers have approached data licensing. In a recent blog post, the City of San Francisco discussed why they are now explicitly assigning a public domain license to their data. Through conversations with data users, they learned that a public domain license frees the data user from the obligation of having to manage license restrictions and attribution requirements. This burden can be especially complex if multiple data sets with differing license terms are used in a tool or application.

If you’re a data provider, please give us a call if we can help you choose an appropriate data license. San Francisco has also provided a helpful list of resources related to data licensing.

If you’re using a database whose license requires attribution, please see our guide to attribution and citation if you’d like to learn more about how to provide proper credit for data.

If you’re interested in learning more about the individual licenses you’re most-likely to encounter on the Data Center’s open data portal, please refer to the following licensing frameworks: