May 11, 2012

Can research data be copyrighted?

Research data cannot be copyrighted, although research instruments and databases can be. The argument behind copyright for databases is complicated, but it has to do with the possibility for creative expression in the organization of the database, along with any copyrightable software to run the database. But even when a database is copyrighted, the data in the database remain uncopyrightable.

The principal investigator’s university is generally considered to be the holder of the intellectual property rights for the data the PI generates.