Licensing data - non-commercial only = open?


As NGO we’re looking into our licensing policy. We would like to use the license provided by Creative : Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Our question is particularly whether the non-commercial clause is compliant with the IATI standard as this restricts the use of data for some (commercial) users and our data would not be ‘open’ enough when applying this license?

We’re interested to know if there are more publishers using these kind of licences with NonCommercial clause.

(Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson) #2

At Akvo we have chosen to publish IATI data with two licenses:

We have a page with our detailed license descriptions for different content.
The rational behind the choice of licenses is described in a longer blog.

But in short, we picked two licenses for our IATI data to

  • be compatible with organisations that are using or considering CC
    licensing (like yours)
  • at the same time the ODbL license is more
    suited to database content and the applicable laws

To answer your specific question, many people working in this space recommend against using the None Commercial clause, as it is considered limiting the use of the data too much. We at Akvo consider that the Share Alike clause is sufficient, as the users of the data then are encouraged to find uses where we all can share the results.

Hope that helps a bit. /Thomas @ Akvo

(Mark Brough) #3

Hi @bjelkeman, @redeenkind

The non-commercial clause is not compliant with the IATI Standard (and neither is the ShareAlike license).

According to the licensing standard agreed by the Steering Committee, public domain or attribution-only licenses are the only ones compliant with the standard. Share-alike licenses are “specifically prohibited” for IATI data.

Non-commercial licenses are not compatible with the Open Definition which is part of IATI’s licensing arrangements.

(Tim Davies) #4

Hey @redeenkind

This is an interesting question. Can you say a bit more about why your NGO is interested in using non-commercial clauses in the license?

One of the reasons that the open data movement has argued that licences need to allow commercial use, even if the focus is public good, is that some intermediaries might have sustainability strategies that rely on adding value to data - and non-commercial licenses would exclude this. I.e. intermediary activity often needs to find some funding strategy: and non-commercial licenses can undermine this.

A common example would be an intermediary selling printed copies of books based on wikipedia content: without being able to sell the book (which has a production cost) they would not be able to distribute the wikipedia knowledge to those who are offline.

Hope this helps point to why IATI and other projects go for licenses without non-commercial clauses.

(Mark Brough) #5

I guess another reason is the difficulty of distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial use/organisations – e.g. a not-for-profit company, a university charging fees for its courses, or a service providing access to the data supported by advertising might all be considered commercial. This article and associated report discusses differences in perceptions around “non-commerical”


@all thanks for your feedback. Very useful. As somewhat expected I see different interpretations.

One thing we are not sure about how commercial organisations will behave towards public data. One of our worries: commercial entities (like google etc) could absorb a lot of data and in future selling public data back to public entities like NGO’s, whilst some data should be available for free (unless these combined data are available against fair cost)

Peter @redeenkind

(Siem Vaessen) #7

Bumping this seeing how it in part relates to discussion raised in topic IATI Datastore - what data should go in?

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