November 2, 2022 |

Data Terms and Insights: Understanding Intellectual Property Ownership

If your business is beginning to recognize the opportunities that come with data collection and analysis, a well-grounded privacy policy and substantiated privacy audit are imperative for both legal compliance and reputation management.

Understanding the common terms used in discussions about data will allow you to engage actively in conversations about privacy policies and the rights of ownership. This will allow you to make sound decisions for your business.

Defining and distinguishing terms

It is necessary to distinguish between data, datasets, and databases - as these terms are commonly used interchangeably. However, in regards to discussions about data privacy policies and compliance, they must each be regarded as distinct.

Raw data: Statistics or facts.

Dataset: A collection of raw data made available to users of a database.

Database: A computing environment (consisting of data, hardware, software, telecommunications systems and equipment) intended for a specific purpose, such as research.

Determining your intellectual property rights

In addition to understanding the terms, you must also consider intellectual property laws. You need to understand who has intellectual ownership over the information to consider the rights your business is granted. Ownership depends greatly on how the data is utilized.

Databases can collect some level of protection particularly in regards to copyright.

Typically there are 3 elements required to qualify as a copyrightable collection of data:

  • Collection and assembly of pre-existing material or data
  • Arrangement of the material or data
  • Creation by virtue of the particular selection of an original work of authorship

If you are a company that collects data from various sources, manages the aggregation of that data and provides businesses and consumers with access to your database, this indicates that you may not have access to IP rights. However, there may still be other quasi property rights that are protected.

For instance, if you own a collection of video clips, and you publish a dataset with information about the length, format, and popularity of the clips, your ownership of the videos does not automatically give you rights over the data about the videos. It also does not prevent others from using that data.

However, a database may be subject to copyright.

For example, if you design a special algorithm that analyzes your videos, labels their contents, and uploads them to a website for users to search, then your algorithm and website may be original authorship and eligible for intellectual property protection.

Individual pieces of data such as the length of a particular video will not be protected. Nevertheless, you will be able to legally prevent your code and website from being copied wholesale and monetized by others.

Navigating consent

When dealing with data, understanding intellectual property rights and how and when they apply to the form of data you’re using is essential in developing policies for privacy compliance. With these delineations of property rights in mind, let us utilize this information in the context of the customer.

In Data Terms and Insights: Navigating Customer Consent, we will dive deeper into three forms of data and discuss privacy further in the scope of prioritizing consent and building trust.


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