United States

  • English

  Data licenses & attribution

Most data provided by OCLC is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (plain language summary), with reference to the community norms put forward by the members of the OCLC cooperative who built WorldCat. This license allows the data to be used for study and research, among other things, with attribution in derivative works produced from the dataset. If you plan to use the bibliographic data for other purposes, whether or not you are an OCLC member, we ask that you review and comply with the community norms. You are welcome to get in touch with us for advice regarding the community norms.

Please see the guidelines below for advice and examples of how to satisfy the attribution requirements of the ODC-BY license.The ODC-BY license currently applies to:

Dewey.info  data is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license. More information about how to implement Dewey.info as linked data is available here.

Data identifiers

OCLC data indentifiers and linked data URIs are in the public domain.  Independent of the data and/or information content that they identify or link to, which may be subject to individual licenseing terms open or otherwise, OCLC identifiers (such as OCLC Numbers, VIAF IDs & URIs, or WorldCat Work URIs) can be treated as if they are in the public domain and can be included in any data exposure mechanism or activity as public domain data. 

OCLC Linked data attribution guidelines

Linked Data provided as output from OCLC services, or in downloadable files, will be available under various license terms as described on the Web pages and in the documentation associated with each service. In cases where OCLC is specifically publishing linked datasets, OCLC will provide a Vocabulary of Interlinked Datasets (VoID) description of each dataset. The VoID will reference the specific license applicable to the dataset and provide guidance on how to satisfy the attribution requirements, if any.

In anticipation that more specific guidance will be sought in some cases, these guidelines provide advice and examples of how to satisfy the attribution requirements under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-BY) in a variety of real world situations. To give a context, this guide assumes use of the WorldCat dataset for its examples.

Unless specifically stated in dataset-specific documentation, these guidelines and examples can be applied to other OCLC, ODC-BY licensed datasets by appropriately changing the dataset name and attribution links.

Basic requirements

Attribution requirements derived from section 4.3 of the ODC-BY License.

  • The recommended form of attribution for WorldCat is:
    "This [title of report or article or dataset or service] contains OCLC WorldCat information made available under the ODC Attribution License. The OCLC Cooperative requests that uses of WorldCat derived data contained in this work conform with the WorldCat Community Norms"
  • Special cases: In circumstances where providing the full attribution statement above is not technically feasible, the use of canonical WorldCat URIs is adequate to satisfy Section 4.3 of the ODC Attribution License

Practical applications

In documents or dataset information

This is the simplest case. In a prominent place in the document (or in supporting information for a published dataset) which contains WorldCat information, the following recommended attribution statement should be inserted thus, with links enabled in online documentation:

"This [title of report or article or dataset] contains OCLC WorldCat information made available under the ODC Attribution License. The OCLC Cooperative requests that uses of WorldCat derived data contained in this work conform with the WorldCat Community Norms"

Web sites/applications

If WorldCat data is core to the functioning of the site, the same recommended statement should be inserted into "About" pages and/or in static areas of the site pages such as the header or footer. This is also applicable when WorldCat information is used as part of the functioning of the site/application but is not displayed to the user:

"This [name of site/application] contains OCLC WorldCat information made available under the ODC Attribution License. The OCLC Cooperative requests that uses of WorldCat derived data contained in this work conform with the WorldCat Community Norms".

Web pages

On pages where WorldCat data is displayed,

  1. insert the recommended statement in the site's "About" page
  2. insert onto the page itself, or in the footer or similar area:

    This [name of site/application] contains information from OCLC WorldCat which is made available under the ODC Attribution License.

Mobile / small screen applications

The recommended attribution statement that would be normally placed in an "About" page on a Web site should be placed in the "Information about an application" section on a mobile application download or app marketplace page. If the application contains an "About" screen, it should include the attribution statement; if the application has a temporary start-up screen, it should include the attribution statement there.

Special cases

In circumstances where providing the full attribution statement above is not technically feasible:

  1. Page element: Insert a license reference in the page or element that is visually associated with WorldCat information. For example:

    Rowling, J. K., and Mary GrandPré. 1998. Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone. New York: A.A. Levine Books.

    Data from OCLC WorldCat Licensed under ODC-BY


  2. Source link: Insert a link to the source in the page or element that is visually associated with WorldCat information. For example;

    Rowling, J. K., and Mary GrandPré. 1998. Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone. New York: A.A. Levine Books.

    http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/37975719


  3. Hyperlink: Make the WorldCat sourced text a hyperlink to the source in WorldCat. For example:
  4. Dataset publishing: If you are publishing a dataset containing data from WorldCat in addition to WorldCat URIs, you can define the WorldCat data as a source contributing to the dataset using the VoID vocabulary. For example:

    :MyData a void:Dataset;
        dcterms:title "My Data set";
        dcterms:license <http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/by/1.0/>;
        dcterms:source <http://purl.oclc.org/dataset/WorldCat>
        .
  5. URI referencing: When referencing a WorldCat URI in your data, the URI is considered sufficient attribution in itself. For example:

    a bibo:Book;
        dcterms:title "Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone";
        owl:sameAs <http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/56603707>
        .

    This would require no further attribution.

RDF data formats

All the above examples are applicable in all of the common RDF encoding formats: n3, ttl, RDF/XML, RDFa.

Display font guidelines

When textual attribution is applied, there are no recommendations as to font style, size or color. The text should be legible to a normal user without aids, and when associated with other licensing information, it should be of equal prominence.

General questions about attribution

Why attribution?

For datasets licensed under ODC-By, the license makes attribution a specific condition of reuse. Section 4.3 of ODC-By reads:

4.3 Notice for using output (Contents). Creating and Using a Produced Work does not require the notice in Section 4.2. However, if you Publicly Use a Produced Work, You must include a notice associated with the Produced Work reasonably calculated to make any Person that uses, views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise exposed to the Produced Work aware that Content was obtained from the Database, Derivative Database, or the Database as part of a Collective Database, and that it is available under this License.

In the case of WorldCat, attribution is also part of the OCLC community's official norms as expressed in WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative, Section B which states:

"It is the responsibility of OCLC members to:

4. Make reasonable efforts to attribute the OCLC cooperative as a contributor in works or services based substantially on WorldCat data.

Can attribution be a burden?

Some concerns have been raised around attribution, when multiple data sources are recombined into a single service. This is sometimes called "attribution stacking." With generations of reuse by various parties, tracking and correctly communicating required attributions can be burdensome.

It is our hope that the guidance and examples provided in this document will be well-matched to most reuses of OCLC-provided data issued under an attribution license. For situations that experience attribution stacking to a significant degree, the reuse will need to comply with attribution requirements to the best of the provider's abilities.

For special cases, in circumstances where providing the full attribution statement above is not technically feasible, the use of canonical [dataset] URIs is adequate to satisfy Section 4.3 of the ODC Attribution License

(For guidance on how to apply this option, see "Special cases" section above).

We are a worldwide library cooperative, owned, governed and sustained by members since 1967. Our public purpose is a statement of commitment to each other—that we will work together to improve access to the information held in libraries around the globe, and find ways to reduce costs for libraries through collaboration. Learn more »