Licensing for datasets in OpenSpending Next


The new OpenSpending, like the old one, is a crowd-sourced database. Researchers, journalists, and ordinary users will be empowered to upload and visualize budget datasets from their own country to better analyze issues that affect them. This is awesome :grin:.

However, what if a given budget dataset, though published online on a government website, has not already been released as open data specifically? What if there are restrictions, limits, or T&Cs associated with re-publishing. How should OpenSpending Next deal with these cases?

In the old OpenSpending, all data was published under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL). One option the next OpenSpending may give to users is the ability to select the license associated with an uploaded dataset. But given the complexities of licensing data from the original publisher’s perspective (e.g. government), it is not unlikely that a user will misapply a license. What then?

Related question by @CecileLG :

OpenData Platform by

This comes up with Data Packages quite frequently and we have a bit of a FAQ on it:

See also my comments on @CecileLG’s post.

In general, I would strongly encourage:

  • A strong default (like the current one)
  • A clear statement that you use at its own risk and we do not guarantee that this license is valid - e.g. “see README + source data for more details etc”


Following a link to this old thread from a current discussion.

Hopefully any site which allows data “donations” has very clear and strong Terms of Service or User Agreement terms which state that uploaders must: 1) have rights to upload the data, 2) have rights to grant licenses and 3) generally know what the heck they’re doing (which would eliminate 99% of the population).

None of this really prevents the problems, but it gives you a small figleaf to hide behind in the case of misuses, plus prompts people to, hopefully, stop and think, which they might not otherwise do.