Skip to main content

Data Management: Intellectual Property and Copyright

Copyright and ethical use of data

Protecting Your Intellectual Property

An Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Management Plan is an important part of your Data Management Plan. Your funding agency may have specific requirements for IPR management. Even if this is not the case, you will want to think about this important aspect of the research process. Data are considered "facts" under U.S. law. They are not copyrightable because they are discovered, not created as original works. However, other intellectual property protections may be utilized to protect your work and ensure proper attribution. 

Although data itself cannot be copyrighted, you may be able to own a copyright in the compilation of the data. Creative arrangement, annotation, or selection of data can be protected by copyright. Patent law may apply if your data collection leads to new and useful inventions such as machines, processes, manufactures, or improvements. Your data may be protected by trade secret if your formula, process, design, or method offers a commercial advantage. Keeping in mind that some contracts or grants come with non-disclosure agreements or other conditions requiring secrecy.

Finally, some data elements must remain confidential and are protected under HIPPA, FERPA, or IRB considerations.

Storing and Licensing Your Research Data

Here are some questions that are fairly general to all DMPs. However, look at these with regard to the IPR aspects of your data. Again, your funding agency may have specific requirements for data storage and access.

  1. Where will your data be stored?
  2. How will your data be stored?
  3. When will it be shared? Are there portions that cannot be shared?
  4. How will access to it be provided?

Kent State University Resources

Open Data IP Tools