Webinar: Published data for which the license is missing or the copyright is unclear

The Danish Centre for Environmental Assessment, Aalborg University, Denmark is hosting a webinar on the ability to use and re-use published data for which the license is missing or the copyright is unclear. This webinar is part of the Getting the Data Right project funded by the KR Foundation.


  • Title: Online seminar on the ability to use and re-use published data for which the copyright or license is missing or unclear

  • Time: Tuesday 01 March 2022 14:00–15:30 +0100 CET

  • Zoom link: see accompanying PDF below

  • Registration: not required

  • Accompanying PDF: online-seminar-on-data-with-unclear-copyright-or-license.pdf (176 KB)


Use case: We are members of a multi-institutional research community developing open global databases and models of environmental impact from human activities, obviously involving large statistical datasets. We combine data from many different sources and wish to publish the openly traceable combined data with the CC‑BY‑4.0 license.

Problem: We often encounter that publicly available data, whether from scientific publications, government websites, or even from national statistical agencies, do not always come with an explicit license. This causes concerns when redistributing or creating openly traceable data products from such data sources. Some researchers appear to regard data published without a license as open, while others suggest that depending on the jurisdiction, such data cannot be assumed to be open data. This appears to be an issue that needs to be clarified and confirmed.


  • Robbie Morrison, @robbie.morrison
  • Christoph Bruch, RDA-CODATA Legal Operability Interest Group


The seminar is open for anyone interested and will be moderated by:

  • Bo Weidema, Aalborg University

There will be options for asking questions and exchanging views.

Chris Mutel, Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) was earlier listed as a moderator but has had to withdraw because of other commitments.

Start time in other timezones

Duration 01:30.

Day Date Time Offset Timezone
Wednesday 02 March 2022 02:00 +1300 NZDT
Wednesday 02 March 2022 00:00 +1100 AEDT
Tuesday 01 March 2022 18:30 +0530 IST (India)
Tuesday 01 March 2022 17:00 +0400 +04 (UAE)
Tuesday 01 March 2022 16:00 +0300 MSK
Tuesday 01 March 2022 16:00 +0300 EAT
Tuesday 01 March 2022 15:00 +0200 CAT
Tuesday 01 March 2022 14:00 +0100 WAT
Tuesday 01 March 2022 14:00 +0100 CET
Tuesday 01 March 2022 13:00 +0000 GMT
Tuesday 01 March 2022 13:00 +0000 UTC
Tuesday 01 March 2022 08:00 -0500 EST
Tuesday 01 March 2022 06:00 -0700 MST
Tuesday 01 March 2022 05:00 -0800 PST
Tuesday 01 March 2022 03:00 -1000 HST

Draft slide‑deck

I am presenting and I am also placing my draft slide‑deck here temporarily so that I can seek feedback on other forums:

On the legal reusability of public data in Europe


[with typos fixed]

Energy system analysts working in Europe and elsewhere have begun the long journey toward establishing a knowledge commons for the energy sector. The advantages of having a single, virtual, maintained, shared, and coherent data basis for system analysis are self‑evident. The entire undertaking is nonetheless predicated on being able to source legally unencumbered public data from official sources.

This presentation examines the legal status of public data in Europe under current conditions. Key legislation like the database directive 96/9/EC, the open data directive 2019/1024, and prevailing copyright law are examined in the context of this emerging knowledge commons. And the picture that emerges is far from encouraging. Despite its name, the open data directive does not support genuinely re‑usable data, the database directive remains an impediment, the legal status of material under statutory reporting is in general compromised, and it can be difficult to discern the conditions under which pivotal public sector entities should release their information.

The solution advocated here is to press for public information providers to deploy Creative Commons CC‑BY‑4.0 licenses on primary data and CC0‑1.0 public domain dedications on the associated metadata and cataloging information.

The underlying problem is essentially this. European legislators cannot decide whether to make public sector information genuinely open and reusable — or instead reserve this information in encumbered form to fuel an emerging data market offering saleable information products and services.

The collateral damage from this implicit policy is high and is significantly inhibiting efforts by energy system analysts to articulate and evaluate feasible and useful net‑zero transitions. Moreover, the analysis undertaken is necessarily less transparent and less robust than it could or should be.

The current legal status of public sector information and information under statutory reporting is all the more disappointing because legislators could solve many of the issues raised with the stroke of a pen, should they so wish. This presentation therefore offers a list of specific actions in this regard.

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