Software Licenses

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Overview of SCEC Open-Source Software Licenses

SCEC scientific software is open-source in order to provide transparency into the scientific calculations performed by the code. Based on NSF funding requirements that we use an OSI approved open-source license, and the recommendations from USC Stevens Institute, we are standardizing our software licenses on BSD-3.

BSD-3 License Text for SCEC Software

USC Stevens reviewed and approved this version of the BSD-3 license for use with SCEC open-source software.

Software License Information

USC Stevens Software License Recommendations

Preferred Copyright Notice for Documentation

For end-users of SCEC software, documentation and training materials should included copyright notices. As a research organization, we recommend that SCEC software documentation is distributed under a Creative Commons copyright, described below.

This copyright notice permits copying and redistributing the material, remixing, and building upon it as long as the users give appropriate credit to the original authors. More details about this copyright are given on the CC pages.

Data Copyrights

Data versus database

In any data project, there are likely to be two components. The first is the data collected, assembled, or generated. Think of it as the raw content in the system. It could be hourly temperature readings from a sensor, the age of individuals in a survey, recordings of individual voices, or photographs of plant specimens. The second component is the data system in which the data is stored and managed.

We usually do not think of data content separate from the system in which it is stored, but the distinction is important in terms of intellectual property rights. The question is what, if anything, is protected by copyright. Data that is factual has no copyright protection under U.S. law; it is not possible to copyright facts. Not all data is in the public domain. A project might, for example, use copyrighted photographs; the photographs are part of the project’s “data.” In many cases, the data in a data management system as well as the metadata describing that data will be factual, and hence not protected by copyright.

A database, on the other hand, can have a thin layer of copyright protection. Deciding what data needs to be included in a database, how to organize the data, and how to relate different data elements are all creative decisions that may receive copyright protection.

Because of the different copyright status of databases and data content, different mechanisms are required to manage each. Copyright can govern the use of databases and some data content (that which is itself original), but contract law, trademarks, and other mechanisms are required to regulate factual data.

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