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Copyright is a legal right, grounded in the United States Constitution, that gives the owner of copyright in a work the exclusive right to:
Reproduce (make copies of ) the work; and
Modify or prepare derivative works based on the work. (Examples of derivative works include translations, transforming printed works into musicals or films, rearrangements of scores, and any other recast, transformation or adaptation of a work); and
Distribute the work in any format by sale, publication, license, rental, or for free; and
Publicly perform or display the work; and
Authorize others to exercise some or all of those rights
Data itself is not copyrightable.
For instance, demographic counts, weather measurements, phone numbers, chemical structures, currency values, facts about individuals and events, and similar types of factual information may be used without permission.
However, when a creator acts to select, arrange, coordinate, or otherwise creatively transform, organize or analyze data, then the creative elements can be protected by copyright.
While the individual pieces of data used to create a visualization can not be copyrighted, the visualization itself can be protected. Simply displaying the data in a simple table or chart generally does not constitute creative transformation, whereas unique design and display elements may meet the threshold for original work.
Protecting Your Data Visualizations
Several types of licenses are available to data visualization creators to communicate how they would like to be acknowledged and/or how other can use their work.
Includes several types of data licenses including:
Public Domain Dedication and License (PDDL) — “Public Domain for data/databases”
Attribution License (ODC-By) — “Attribution for data/databases”
Open Database License (ODC-ODbL) — “Attribution Share-Alike for data/databases”