Code of Good Practices for Copyright in Terminology

code of goodprAfter having completed the Advanced course as Terminology Manager by TermNet, I received with my certification a complimentary copy of the Guide for Terminology Agreements, also available online. I have mentioned it before, but I think it’s important to highlight its Code of Good Practices.

The Code of Good Practices is Part 2 of the Guide and it is a great quick read (only 3 pages) to increase your awareness on this important subject. I summarize its contents here to peak your interest and encourage you to read it.

First, let’s take a quick look at its five General observations:

  1. The importance of terminologies: Short note on how terminology transpires in every basic scientific and technical area.
  2. Cooperation in Terminology Work: Explains why cooperation among institutions is key to promoting joint collaboration to avoid duplication of efforts, especially considering how time consuming and labor intensive terminology work is. Information exchange allows institutions to complement or build on the work carried out by others and leverage knowledge, with the appropriate acknowledgement given to the originators of data.
  3. Applicability of intellectual property rights to terminology: Any representation of concepts (e.g. a term entry or a collection of terms) created or prepared by you as originator is protected by intellectual property.
  4. Call for the provision of terminologies: You basically have an ethical duty to share with the users any terminological work that you create, “on terms and conditions which reflect the nature of the terminologies in each case”.

Then, the Code itself has four sections. Let’s take a look:

  1. Originators’ intellectual property: (i) Always indicate the origin of the terminological data; (ii) large volumes of data only require to be referenced once but the user must acknowledge the originator as owner of such data; (iii) for data marketed by the originator, the user must obtain permission before sharing it with third parties; (iv) except for research or teaching purposes and for individual entries or a limited set of individual entries, you cannot share without the previous consent of the originator; (v) abide by agreements made on licenses and royalties; (vi) organizations with many users must make sure that the data is not downloaded or copied without authorization of the originator.
  2. Data integrity: (i) you cannot make any changes to the data, except for typos and obvious mistakes; (ii) observe data integrity when working with sensitive information for individual items or data collections; (iii) do not share private or confidential data without previous consent of originator.
  3. Standardized terminology: (i) standards bodies and specialist organizations may and are urged to share terminological data among them to improve its quality and volume; (ii) terminological records must indicate its originator, be it a single item or a collection of items; (iii) standards bodies should provide language equivalents of data received by its peer organizations and, if possible, free of charge; (iv) active exchange of data among and between standards bodies and other institutions is encouraged; (v) standards bodies must negotiate a license agreement with the originating standards body when sharing information from the originator.
  4. Limited quotations of terminological data for scientific, research, teaching and training purposes: You don´t need to follow these rules for very limited extracts of individual terminological data or when dealing with limited data in scientific publications as long as you don’t violate data integrity rules and acknowledge the originator.

In addition to the Code, there’s a 10-term glossary at the end of the Guide (Part 3) for associated information, copyright holder, database, data usage, originator, quality of data, quantity of data, subject field, supplier, and terminology database.

Disclaimer: Please note that this blog post is a summary of the Code as interpreted by the writer with the purpose of giving the reader a quick overview of its contents. You must read and abide by the Code to make decisions on the use of your data. Thank you.


Guide to Terminology Agreements, Christian Galinski and Jürgen W. Goebel, InfoTerm, 2006. available online.

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