The Open Data Rights Statement Vocabulary

It is important that Open Data is clearly licensed so that consumers can understand any requirements that apply to re-use of a dataset. For example whether the data publisher has requested attribution when their data has been re-used.

The Open Data Rights Statement (ODRS) vocabulary supports the publication of machine-readable descriptions of licensing information. The vocabulary is useful for both data publishers and data consumers:

  • data publishers can use the vocabulary to publish clear machine-readable information about the licence, attribution requirements and copyright notices associated with their datasets
  • data re-users can apply this data to automatically create and format attribution statements and display copyright notices

Machine-readable licensing information also supports dataset discovery, allowing data aggregators to provide search facilities that use this data to guide re-users towards Open Data, e.g. by filtering based on licence, and in the clear displaying of re-use information.

Rights Statements

The ODRS vocabulary is very simple and focuses on supporting the publication of “Rights Statements”. A Rights Statement is a resource that describes the relationship between a Dataset and its Licence(s). A dataset may be associated with multiple licences which separately cover re-use of the data in the dataset, and its content (e.g. text and descriptions). A Rights Statement can also be used to capture additional context that is relevant to the re-use of a dataset.

A Rights Statement may typically include some or all of the following information:

  • A reference to a Dataset Licence
  • A reference to a Content Licence (if, and where applicable)
  • Copyright notices, that should be referenced or displayed by re-users of the dataset
  • Guidance on the correct means of attributing the source of the data used in an application
  • Pointers to further information relevant to data consumers, e.g. further guidance on re-use such as how to acquire additional rights

This information is usually provided only in human readable documentation. But providing a basic machine-readable description of this information, re-users can be better supported in finding the information they need and, importantly, in ensuring they can comply with licensing terms.

Applying the Vocabulary

The vocabulary has been designed to be easily applicable in a variety of circumstances, including describing datasets in a data catalog as well as requests for Linked Data or to other APIs

The specification of the vocabulary is supported by two guides:

  • The Publishers Guide provides a thorough introduction to the vocabulary and includes a variety of examples that show how to apply the vocabulary to real-world data.
  • The Re-users Guide explains to data consumers how they should use this information in their applications, e.g. to support automated generation of attribution links

A set of standalone examples are also available that illustrate how to use the vocabulary in a number of different formats

Further Reading

The Open Data Institute have published some introductory guides on data licensing. This provides useful background for anyone publishing or consuming open data. There are separate guides that provide: