You are here

Data and copyright

How does copyright apply to data?

Data and factual information are not protected by copyright (e.g., rainfall or temperature measurements, mortality rates, population numbers, currency values, chemical structures, historical facts and dates, the number of Twitter followers someone has). These things exist without being “created” by anyone. Additionally, simple visualizations such as line graphs and tables are often not creative enough to be eligible for copyright protection. Others may be able to copy and use these types of material without your permission, even if you collected or compiled the data. Much of the data deposited in Radar, SFU's research data repository, will fall under this category.

However, some research products are protected by copyright (e.g., collections of text mined from websites or publications, photographs, audiovisual recordings, detailed diagrams and charts). Copyright in these materials may belong to you, another member of your research team, or an external third party.

When you deposit material in Radar, you must be certain that you have the right to upload the material. If your material incorporates works created by others, you should have the permission of those other creators to upload it to Radar, unless your use of the work falls under a Copyright Act provision such as fair dealing.

Contact the SFU Copyright Office at with any questions, and visit for copyright FAQs and information. For questions about Radar and research data management in general, contact or visit Research Data Management: Home.

Licensing your content in Radar

When you upload content to Radar, you must select one of the following licensing options:

  • Creative Commons Zero
  • Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY)
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC BY-NC)
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 (CC BY-ND)
  • Do not apply a Creative Commons license; deposited object remains proprietary

Under the proprietary option, you retain all rights under copyright. The Creative Commons license options are described below.

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that has developed a suite of licenses that authors and other creators can apply to their works to permit sharing and distribution. Applying a Creative Commons (CC) license to your written, artistic, musical or multimedia work means that you retain ownership of copyright but you permit certain uses of your work without the user needing to contact you for permission each time. You also waive your moral rights, to the extent required for users to use your works according to the applied license. Please note that users of copyright protected works (including those under CC licenses) have certain rights in Canada’s Copyright Act; these rights will supersede the terms of a CC license where applicable.

You must be the copyright holder of the work and any other works contained within it (such as photographs, diagrams, articles, video clips, etc.), or have license or permission to include these works, in order to apply a CC license. Once you make your work available under a specific CC license, you cannot revoke or change the license associated with that specific work (though of course you may stop distributing the material).

Creative Commons options available to users of Radar

cc zero  CC Zero
This is not a license but a public domain tool, designed to indicate that you waive all your rights in your work worldwide and release your work into the public domain for anyone, anywhere, to use freely.

by  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY)
The most open of Creative Commons licenses, this option permits others to copy, distribute, adapt, alter and otherwise use your work in any way without contacting your for permission. However, they are required to credit you in any use they make of your work.

by-nd  Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 (CC BY-ND)
This license permits others to copy and distribute your work without contacting you for permission. However, they are required to credit you on the copies they make and they are not permitted to change your work in any way.

by-nc  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC BY-NC)
This license permits others to copy, distribute, adapt, alter and otherwise use your work without contacting you for permission. However, they are required to credit you in any use they make of your work and they may only use the work for non-commercial purposes. Non-commercial purposes are defined by Creative Commons as those “not primarily intended or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”