CC0 use for data

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CC0 (read “CC Zero”) is a universal public domain dedication that may be used by anyone wishing to permanently surrender the copyright and database rights (where they exist) they may have in a work, thereby placing it as nearly as possible into the public domain. CC0 is a legal tool that improves on the “dedication” function of our earlier, U.S.-centric public domain dedication and certification. CC0 is universal in form and may be used throughout the world for any kind of content without adaptation to account for laws in different jurisdictions. And like our licenses, CC0 has the benefit of being expressed in three ways – legal code, a human readable deed, and machine-readable code that allows works distributed under CC0 to be easily found.

CC0 can be particularly important for the sharing of data and databases, since it otherwise may be unclear whether highly factual data and databases are restricted by copyright or other rights. Databases may contain facts that, in and of themselves, are not protected by copyright law. However, the copyright laws of many jurisdictions cover creatively selected or arranged compilations of facts and creative database design and structure, and some jurisdictions like those in the European Union have enacted additional sui generis laws that restrict uses of databases without regard for applicable copyright law. CC0 is intended to cover all copyright and database rights, so that however data and databases are restricted (under copyright or otherwise), those rights are all surrendered. CC0 is also particularly relevant to scientific data. An opinion piece in Nature on "Post-publication sharing of data and tools" explicitly recommends open sharing and the use of CC0 to put data in the public domain:

"Although it is usual practice for major public databases to make data freely available to access and use, any restrictions on use should be strongly resisted and we endorse explicit encouragement of open sharing, for example under the newly available CC0 public domain waiver of Creative Commons."

CC0 use cases

This is a list of uses of CC0 for data and databases. For uses of CC licenses, see Data and CC Licenses.

The British Library

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The British Library released a large set of their bibliographic data into the public domain via the CC0 public domain dedication. This set is from the British National Bibliography, which contains data on publishing activity from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland since 1950, and comprises 20% of the entire British Library catalog. The dataset currently consists of 3 million individual records.

CERN Library

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CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research that is home to the Large Hadron Collider and birthplace of the web, released its book catalog into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication.

Cologne-based Libraries

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All bibliographic data from Cologne-based libraries are available to the public with no known copyright restrictions. Cologne-based libraries who surrendered their copyrights using the CC0 public domain dedication include the University and Public Library of Cologne (USB), the Library of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, the University Library of the University of Applied Science of Cologne, and the LBZ. The data is currently linked from the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center (hbz). For more info, see the blog post.


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All content on Digg, a social news website, is defaulted under CC0, which means that Digg has surrendered all copyrights to its content. Content includes readers' comments, story titles, story descriptions, and all of the other user-contributed content on the Digg site. For more info, see the blog post.


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Dryad is an online repository for data contained in academic papers and other publications in the sciences. The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and the University of North Carolina Metadata Research Center, in partnership with various journals and societies, comprise the development of Dryad's data set, all of which is released under the CC0 public domain dedication.


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Flickr published its shapefile dataset online, surrendering all copyrights via the CC0 public domain dedication. A shapefile is a file containing shapes mathematically generated by thousands of Flickr geotagged photos of particular neighborhoods, countries, and continents. Shapefile data has been used to reverse-engineer maps with user generated longitude and latitude coordinates that are then demarcated by Where-On-Earth IDs, "unique numeric identifiers that correspond to the hierarchy of places where a photo was taken: the neighbourhood, the town, the county, and so on up to the continent." For more information, see the blog post.

Genomes Unzipped

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Genomes Unzipped is a project that aims to inform the public about genetics via the independent analysis of open genetic data, volunteered by a core group of genetics researchers and specialists. Genomes Unzipped genetic data is available in the public domain via the CC0 public domain dedication, while other site content is defaulted under CC BY-SA.

German Wikipedia

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The German Wikipedia uses CC0 to dedicate data into the public domain; specifically, their PND-BEACON files are available for download. Since Wikipedia links out to quite a number of external resources, and since a lot of articles link to the same external resources, PND-BEACON files are the German Wikipedia’s way of organizing the various data.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

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One of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world, GlaxoSmithKline has surrendered all copyrights in its malarial data set via CC0, which includes more than 13,500 compounds known to be active against malaria.

Italian Piemonte Regional Government

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The Piemonte Regional Government in Italy has adopted the CC0 public domain dedication for its open data portal ( The Piemonte Region is leading the open data movement in Italy at the government level, being the only regional government to open up all its data for reuse without restrictions.


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Using CC0, MichiganView has surrendered all copyrights to its 93+ Gigabytes of Landsat 5 and 7, and NAIP imagery data. The MichiganView consortium makes available aerial photography and satellite imagery of Michigan to the public for free over the Web. As part of the AmericaView consortium, MichiganView supports access and use of these imagery collections through education, workforce development, and research. For more info, see the blog post.

Netherlands Government

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The Netherlands government launched, a single website for all Dutch ministries, in March 2010. The default copyright policy for site content is that there is no copyright; using the CC0 public domain dedication, the government surrendered all copyrights in site. The purpose of is to establish one central location or portal through which all government organizations and ministries can be accessed by the public. The migration process is currently underway. For more info, see the blog post.

Open Library

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An initiative of the Internet Archive, the Open Library is an online catalog that aims to provide a web page for every book ever published. Drawing from existing library catalogs around the world and user contributions, the Open Library has 20 million records to date and provides access to 1.7 million scanned books. All rights to Open Library data are surrendered via CC0.


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An initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy, OpenEI is a linked open data platform that releases all contributions to the public under the CC0 public domain dedication. It is a community effort devoted to assembling the world's most comprehensive collection of energy information--including datasets, tools, and models.

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Using CC0, OpenJurist, a resource for case law in the U.S., has made available all Supreme Court and Federal Appellate Court Decisions from the 1700s to the current day.

Personal Genome Project

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The Personal Genome Project, a pioneer in the emerging field of personal genomics technology, released a large data set containing genomic sequences for ten individuals using CC0, with future planned releases also to be under CC0.

Polar Information Commons

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The Polar Information Commons, a data sharing project growing out of the most recent International Polar Year, has enabled researchers to release their polar data into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication. For those sharing their data, the Polar Information Commons has outlined Ethics and Norms of Data Sharing.

Proteome Commons Tranche Network

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Proteome Commons Tranche Network, a public proteomics database for annotations and other information that uses Tranche, a free and open source (Apache 2.0) file storage and dissemination software, has enabled the CC0 public domain dedication as the default uploading option for users.

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1.8 million pages of U.S. Courts of Appeals decisions (since 1950 onwards) were delivered back into the public domain by, who officially surrendered all copyrights in the case law using the CC0 public domain dedication.

Sage Bionetworks - Sage Commons

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Sage Commons is a public resource and information platform for scientists, research foundations, and research institutions to share and develop human disease and biological research. Sage Commons will enable the CC0 public domain dedication as an option for surrendering copyright in data hosted in the network. The SageCite project, driven by UKOLN, the University of Manchester, and the British Library, and funded by JISC, is set to develop and test an entire framework for citation norms, not attribution, using bioinformatics as a test case.

Talis Connected Commons

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The Talis Connected Commons is a project by Talis that works to encourage the growth of public domain data. Talis offers free data hosting on its platform as long as the data is made available under either the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication or the CC0 public domain dedication.

University of Florida Library

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The University of Florida Smathers Libraries has implemented a default public domain policy for all of its original catalog data. The library has released its book catalog into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication tool, opening up downstream reuse of the data without restrictions.

University of Michigan Library

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The University of Michigan Library has surrendered all copyright in its Open Access bibliographic records via CC0. As of November 17, 2010, the Library released 684,597 bibliographic records into the public domain. The Library also defaults all of its site content under the most open CC license - CC BY.


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Using CC0, WisconsinView has surrendered all copyrights in its 6+ Terabytes of imagery data. The WisconsinView consortium makes available aerial photography and satellite imagery of Wisconsin to the public for free over the Web. As part of the AmericaView consortium, WisconsinView supports access and use of these imagery collections through education, workforce development, and research. For more info, see the blog post.

Other CC0 use cases

Open Clip Art Library

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All clip art packages generated and uploaded by the Open Clip Art Library community are free to use, distribute, and remix under the CC0 public domain dedication.