Guidelines for Interpretation of the Rules and Standard Licence Agreement

These guidelines have been provided to assist with the interpretation of the ECMWF Product Distribution Rules and the ECMWF Standard Licence 

The guidelines below refer to the interpretation of Value Added Services (VAS) and Graphics Based on ECMWF Products.  The following terms used in these guidelines can be found both in the Rules and the Standard Licence Agreement:

  • Non-retrievable VAS
  • Retrievable VAS
  • Broadcast/Broadcaster
  • Graphics Based on ECMWF Products
  • Personal Use
  • Redistribution
  • Subsidiary
  • Research Project
  • Valid Products

1. Software as a VAS

A software package that allows for the download/retrieval of unmodified Products in a manner similar to file-sharing, peer-to-peer sharing, web-hosting or file-hosting does not constitute a VAS.  For this to be classified as a VAS, the software should provide a service that requires, as a minimum, that both the service and the Products are needed within the software.  In this case, the Products can then be extracted by End Users of the VAS.  Note, however, that if the VAS provided is purely the visualisation of ECMWF Products, then these would be considered Graphics Based on ECMWF Products and hence Non-retrievable VAS.

2. Modifications of ECMWF Products that do not constitute Retrievable VAS

Non-meteorological processing, such as colouring, data format, data compression methods, fixed or arbitrary percentage adjustments to the data, method of transmission, geometric transformation, sub-setting of areas, custom combinations of time-steps/parameters/model runs, etc. do not constitute VAS.

3. What can be retrieved from a Retrievable VAS

Where a VAS is defined as 'retrievable', unmodified Products can be supplied with the VAS. However, these should be limited to the Product(s) required for the VAS to work or be correctly interpreted. For instance, if the VAS is based solely on one parameter, that is the only parameter that is permissible to be transmitted to End Users. Likewise, it would not be permissible for a VAS based on point data or a limited area to supply global fields.

4. Visualisation of Products as a Non-retrievable VAS

Visualisations of Products, whether publicly or as part of paid-for services and software programs, are classified as Graphics Based on ECMWF Products, which are Non-retrievable VAS. Furthermore, whether a subscription is required or not, the original Products should not be retrievable or reverse engineered without significant effort and/or expense.  Meteograms are also classified as Graphics Based on ECMWF Products and should therefore be Non-retrievable.

5. E-mail, VPN and social media transmission of Products is not a VAS

Dissemination of Products via e-mail, VPN or social media type platforms, irrespective of how the request for data is generated, is not a VAS.

6. APIs allowing the retrieval of Products are not VAS

The provision by Service Providers of APIs where the sole purpose of the API is to transfer unmodified Products is not a VAS.

7. Hosting of ECMWF real-time Products on a platform, such as cloud-storage, is not a VAS

Hosting of ECMWF real-time Products on a platform, such as a cloud environment or FTP server, which allows users to use the data on the platform for any reason (e.g. query the data, retrieve the data, develop tools and/or services with data), is not a VAS.  Nor can access to such a platform by users for these purposes be classified as a 'Contractor' where the service is not directly for the Service Provider/Licensee only.

8. Clarification of "Personal Use"

”Personal Use” is when an individual can use the data for personal activities and non-commercial projects. This means that the use of the data must not involve any income for the user. Those personal activities shall not involve the redistribution of the data.

Users benefitting from Personal Use can plot, download, and process the data, but the results of processing can be shared only occasionally (in a non-systematic way) with other individuals by any means, including social media, since only Service Provider/Broadcaster Licensees are allowed to redistribute Products for Personal Use.

9. Examples of redistribution for specific licences

Two examples to illustrate cases where redistribution of data is not allowed under the limited redistribution provisions of the ECMWF Standard Licence Agreement:

  • ‘Research Project’ licensees: these users are not allowed to redistribute valid Products through services that could be used for commercial or industrial purposes (not by the research user nor any other third party), or to third parties unconnected to the Research Project itself.
  • NMHS Non-Commercial: NMHSs are only allowed to redistribute data to other governmental entities in their respective States. The data are only to be used within the territory of their respective State for the protection of life and property or for research and education purposes. The Licensee may not use the valid Products for commercial services, even if those activities are part of their national governmental obligations. This would require a Service Provider licence and would be subject to the appropriate Information Costs. This does not apply to Products under the CC-BY-4 licence agreement.

10. Subsidiaries

A Subsidiary is considered as the “child” of the Licensee (the “parent” company) and the licensed “parent” company is permitted to distribute licensed Products to the “child” company.

Other types of familial relationships, such as “siblings” (companies controlled by the same parent company of the Licensee), “grand-children” (companies controlled by a subsidiary of the Licensee) etc., cannot receive or use Products from the Licensee (“parent”) or the direct Subsidiary (“child”).

The conditions of the licence should be clearly communicated to all Subsidiaries of the Licensee.

11. Clarification of Research Project

The research licence requests the open publication (not behind a paywall) of the results of the research (i.e. scientific articles or open-source code) without any delay linked to commercial plans. Users carrying out research projects based on a research licence are not allowed to provide any type of service with ECMWF Products.

Providing a service is prohibited whether a fee is applied to the service or not, i.e. commercial services are prohibited but any service that uses ECMWF products without a fee is also considered service provision and thus not allowed by the definition of research project.

12. Validity of data

“Valid products” are all the data that can still be used as current conditions or forecast, i.e. as an initialisation of the forecast model and a prediction. Non-valid data can no longer be used for any kind of prediction.

Example how to calculate validity of data: a 5-day forecast (= 120 hours), from 09 August 2022 at 00 UTC is valid until 15 August 2022 at 00 UTC.

Example on how to calculate validity of data