Something missing? Suggest a change or addition

Contributor Licence


The rights to use and share data contributed to your project needs to be understood by everyone.


The project team needs to be confident that it can share and use data provided by contributors. Contributors need to be clear about the permissions they are giving to reuse the data and content they are providing to the project


Publish a contributor licence. Ensure that people agree to the licence before making their first contribution to the project.

Depending on the scope of your project, users may be submitting data, photographs, audio or other types of content. It should be clear to contributors what permissions they are granting for the project to use the information they provide - this will build trust around how the data and content they provide will be used.

Without clear rights to reuse data, the project may face issues around licensing the combined dataset for reuse by others.

A good contributor licence will cover the full range of contributions that users can make. For example over both the data and any related content (eg photographs, audio, comments).

The licence should only ask for the rights that the project needs, eg to support onward sharing of the data and to manage the service.

The licence should reuse existing open licences, for example by asking contributors to say whether the data and photographs are submitted under a Creative Commons licence.

An alternative to asking for a blanket licence to cover all content submissions is to allow users to choose a standard licence at the point of contribution. This would then be attached to the relevant content when it is shared. This works for individual items of content, but for data contributions, a single blanket licence is preferable as it ensures the entire dataset can be reused under a consistent set of rights.

Changing licence part way through a project is difficult. For example, if additional rights are provided, then existing users will need to agree to the change. This coordination can take time and effort. Ideally the contributor licence will be agreed at the start of the project, in conjunction with potential users.

Democracy Club


OpenStreetMap’s policy described the rights granted by the contributor to the organisation

Related patterns

Visible Processes

Trust needs to be built within the community.

Something missing? Suggest a change or addition