These policies apply to digital information you create, collect, and share including text, video, photographs, and quantitative data.


There are many different ways to handle this kind of information. Some organizations make no ownership claims on it. Others use a variety of licenses that allow for sharing and reuse. Others claim copyright ownership. Funders often require grantees to use certain types of licenses.

 The samples in this section provide examples of IP language. You may need IP language in vendor contracts, grant agreements, or on websites as part of your Terms of Service.

 You should approach intellectual property in ways that align with your mission. If you are planning to provide open access to data or analysis, be sure you have consent to do so and have put in place the strongest possible privacy protection practices.


Work produced in civil society should contribute to some public benefit. There are many ways to achieve public benefit, depending on the type of information produced and the values of the organization producing it. Sometimes it will be best shared as openly, freely, and accessible as possible – in ways that anyone can use and change. Other information might require a commercial application to become truly widespread, and so a different approach might apply. In some cases, such as where there are institutional incentives to publish, external demands might argue for a tiered system, in which the information producer holds the rights for a limited period of time with a plan to share all data, methods, and findings openly and publicly after first publication.

For more information, see this report from the Berkman Center on alternative licensing by foundations and nonprofits.

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