implements licensing changes, updates terms of service

Latest improvements implement recommendations of extensive community consultation and prompt updates to data publisher and data user agreements.

Site-wide search result in next version of currently in development

Site-wide search result in next version of, currently in development.

The GBIF Secretariat has finalized implementation of recommendations drawn from an extensive three-year community consultation on data licensing, and has updated its agreements for data publishers and users.

The latest changes include new filters that enable users of to search occurrences by licence, locality and publishing protocol.

Visitors to can now run faceted searches of both datasets and occurrence records, navigating and filtering them by Creative Commons licence type. Related changes introduced to occurrence downloads include the addition of a new _‘_Licence’ column for .csv downloads and, for DOIs and Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) downloads, the assignment of CC BY or the most restrictive licence contained in the included datasets.

Other new occurrence search features include locality-based filters, which examine information declared by publishers relating to province or state and water body, and a publishing protocol filter. Another allows users to search datasets by project identifiers, which enables automated linking and reporting of data mobilized through individual projects as well as larger programmes like Biodiversity Information for Development (BID).

“I’m proud of the leadership and coordinated response that the GBIF network has shown throughout this process,” said Peter Schalk, chair of the GBIF governing board. “We thank all who have contributed to this effort, and encourage other institutions and networks to join our community in providing full, free and open access to biodiversity data.”

“GBIF has reengineered our publishing tools, data management and access mechanisms to support digital licensing of open biodiversity data,” said Donald Hobern, GBIF executive secretary. “With support from the Secretariat, GBIF Participants have engaged their own publishing communities to make the necessary changes, and many are now actively promoting and instituting similar licensing frameworks with their national and thematic partners.”

GBIF has also updated its terms of use—the data publisher agreement, data user agreement and privacy policy—to adapt licensing and other changes that have taken effect in biodiversity informatics since 2007, when they were last revised.

What’s next

While the focus of the consultation and implementation was occurrence datasets, GBIF aims to keep the momentum going and review other important categories of data, especially checklists and names.

In the case of checklist datasets, nearly 87% already appear to comply with CC0, and only 11% carry clearly non-standardized terms of use. By engaging publishers of the outliers, the network might quickly be able to extend machine-readable licenses to other data types.

Meanwhile, Secretariat staff are working to finalize recommendations on citation practices. The intent is both to align GBIF’s guidance with broader initiatives like FORCE11 Data Citation Principles and the FAIR Guiding Principles and to work closely with publishers and users alike to build a creditable culture of data citation.

Finally, the changes made to the APIs to support the additional functionality are also enabling significant revisions to’s web interface currently in development. These improvements will provide consistent site-wide search, responding to feedback and analysis of use patterns that highlight users’ concerns about confusing navigation, lack of cross-content search and poor support of mobile devices. The next version of will address these key concerns and introduce other enhancements while permitting the inclusion of more functionality and more rapid iterative development in 2017.