Copyright and licensing

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The Core System Trust (CST) holds the copyright in the CORE instruments. The instruments have always been free to reproduce on paper provided that they were not changed, that the reproduction was not for profit and copyright was acknowledged.

Until 31/12/2014 CST had licensed a single provider – Core Information Management Systems Ltd (CIMS) – to reproduce the CORE instruments in software. The rationale was that the high initial investment CIMS had to put in to develop the software and the need to provide training and ongoing support to users couldn’t initially be recouped by them on their early limited number of users (themselves mostly poorly funded). CIMS had sub-licensed the reproduction of CORE instruments in software to a number of organisations.

Creative Commons licence

By the end of 2014 CST and CIMS agreed that the widespread usage of outcome measures has matured to the point where any organisation should be free to reproduce CORE instruments in software, as well as on paper. In line with this we placed all the measures into the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. This ensures, in perpetuity that, subject to certain conditions, any CORE instrument can be reproduced in software without payment of any fees, as has always been the case for reproduction on paper. See for a human readable summary of this and for the licence itself.

Conditions summarised

The conditions are

  • that the use is non-commercial
  • that the content of the measures may not be changed in any way,
  • that attribution to the ownership and creation of the instruments by CST be given (ensured by retaining the copyright line at the bottom of each page of all instruments)

What is “non-commercial”?

This is our (CST’s) interpretation of “NonCommercial” and procedure for commercial entities wishing to use CORE instruments

The instruments are all made available for reuse under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Our understanding of NonCommercial fits completely with the definition given by Creative Commons.  Quoting the pertinent bit from their FAQ is:

CC’s NonCommercial (NC) licenses prohibit uses that are “primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or monetary compensation.” This is intended to capture the intention of the NC-using community without placing detailed restrictions that are either too broad or too narrow. Please note that CC’s definition does not turn on the type of user: if you are a nonprofit or charitable organization, your use of an NC-licensed work could still run afoul of the NC restriction, and if you are a for-profit entity, your use of an NC-licensed work does not necessarily mean you have violated the term. Whether a use is commercial will depend on the specifics of the situation and the intentions of the user.

This means that it’s illegal to make profit simply from providing and reusing any of our instruments or changing them and reproducing them as yours, that bit is easy.

Our motivation is that the instruments be made as readily available to practitioners and researchers at as near zero cost as possible so we are very happy for anyone to put the (unchanged, properly attributed) instruments into software as long as having the instruments there is not the main thing that is enabling profit to be made from sale or licensing of the software.  Provided that is not the case and that incorporating the instrument(s) into the software is done without intending to add to any income just by virtue of have the CORE instrument(s) there, then we regard that as compliant with our use of the Creative Commons “non-commercial” clause.

Sometimes people have asked for explicit confirmation of this (typically when the entity creating the software is working for another entity that wants reassurance). If you need this, contact CE explaining carefully what instrument(s) you plan to use, that you understand that any translations must be from the approved translations and that you cannot create your own translation, telling us a bit about your organisation/company and about your product(s) and confirming that putting the instrument into your software won’t be “for profit” for you and committing that you will continue to ensure that this is the case.  If you are already using any CORE instrument in software and charge for the software and haven’t had explicit permission from us then we hope you will probably find that your use does fit these requirements but even if that’s marginal or unclear, get in touch with CE and let’s sort out how to make your use legal.

Limitations on changes: what can and can’t be done?

Under the terms of this licence the instruments may not be changed in any way. The object of this limitation is to ensure that scores will remain comparable. It would be a breach of the licence to change the order of the items or to cut any items or add any new items or text. Translations may not be done other than working with CST. However, the inevitable small differences in how different software displays the text is not a copyright violation. Where there is no need for the client and other identification/demographic details from the top of the form because these are captured in the software elsewhere then this is allowed but please contact us to check that the changes are acceptable. Similarly, we recognise that sometimes services or projects wish to have localisation and perhaps branding on their forms, provided that the form makes it very clear what content is copyright to CST we generally approve such modifications but they are a breach of copyright if not individually approved so again, contact us to get permission.

Limitations on translations

Where a translation of an instrument has not already been done to our requirements an independent translation is a copyright violation as it changes the instrument. We are, as we always have been, keen to work with anyone wanting to translate the instruments but this must be done in collaboration with CST and to our quality standards for translations. Contact CE before starting any translation. If you find a translation that is not on the list of approved translations, please notify CE.

What CORE instruments covered by this licensing?

CORE Instruments include the CORE Outcome Measure and all derivative works produced by CST whether by shortening (CORE-SF/A, CORE-SF/B, GP-CORE, CORE-10, CORE-5), adaptation/extension (LD-CORE, YP-CORE) or by approved translations.

Where you might want to go next …

Perhaps the FAQ, the blog … or just search around.

Created for 1/1/15, last update tweaks 13/2/24. Text and header image (Chartres, France, by CE) released under International (CC BY-ND 4.0) licence.

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