Licensing Guidance


This site does not provide legal guidance. The information below is provided for discussion and as a suggestion only. Authors should consult with a qualified party, such as a university counsel or a lawyer, as appropriate.

When depositing in a Code and Data Repository, a license needs to be chosen. If not chosen through the menu, a license file (typically named LICENSE.txt or needs to be provided.

Some guidance on licensing of databases and software:

See the Social Science Data Editors’ Licensing Guidance and resources linked therein for more extensive guidance.

Openness required

For the purpose of replicability, the AEA will insist on an open license that allows for replication by researchers unconnected to the original parties, to the extent allowed by other agreements and the law.

Limits to openness

The AEA also understands that the most liberal licenses may not always be compatible with ethical or legal requirements for parts of the data. To the extent possible, authors are required to explore options that do not simply withhold such data. It is possible to impose restrictions on other users of the data that still permit reproducibility or even broader re-use of the data, without compromising ethical considerations or legal requirements. Contact the your local data librarian, your IRB or ethics board, or the AEA Data Editor, to explore such options.

Data-only repositories

We suggest the License: CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License or the more liberal License: CC0 1.0 [CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication].

At the AEA Data and Code Repository, License: CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License is the default license.

Code-only repositories

“Code” or “Software” is any statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result, and may include interpretive, object or source code. The CC-BY license is not recommended for software.

We suggest the License: Modified BSD 3-Clause (Modified) BSD Clause, though other open-source licenses are equally acceptable (see

Repositories with both Code and Data

Many repositories contain both code and databases. In that case, the repository might contain files under different licenses. For instance, some components may come with more restrictive licenses (MIT License for software from third parties) or more lenient licenses (CC0 license for own code), with a third license for databases.

Dual-license Example

We provide an example of a dual-license setup, suitable for use by depositors to the AEA’s Data and Code Repository (see LICENSE-template). It combines

NOTE: Authors must explicitly upload this license to their deposit, as LICENSE.txt, and choose the Other license option when publishing their repository.

A different example

A more complex implementation of the multi-license setup can be found on the Social Science Data Editors website.