E. coli data released under Creative Commons 0 license

BGI has now formally released their data, including Illumina reads, under Creative Commons 0 (CC0) license. This is the most open license possible, and includes this statement:

The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.

They have set up this page with links to, and details of, all the data available. I understand HPA will do something similar.

This is an important step for crowdsourcing! In particular, it clarifies the position that this data is released for the benefit of the public & public health, and there are no restrictions on publication of data and analysis. This is important. The genomics community has long been used to pre-publication data release of ‘community resource’ genomics data (begun during the Human Genome Project), on the understanding (in broad terms) that the research community would not attempt to publish analysis of the released data until the data generators had completed their data generating and had a chance to publish their own analysis. In short, releasing data does not imply that others have the right to publish analysis of it. But the CC0 license does.

I’ve been asked by a few people about this, over the past week. There is understandably some discomfort about people publicly sharing analysis of data that they did not generate. My position has been that the data generators released their data freely for public analysis (with public health as the driver), and this is very different from a research project where they have released the data with the expectation that no-one will ‘publish’ anything before they themselves have. But it is important to formalise this…. I guess it just takes time for the legalities to catch up.

For the crowd-sourcers part, all the analysis posted at the GitHub E. coli O104:H4 Genome Analysis Crowdsourcing site will be available under the CC0 license too, this is being formalised today thanks to the folks at ERA7.