Activity Data Synthesis

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Draft Guide: 'Legal issues relating to sharing data'

The problem

If you want to share activity data with others then you have to make sure that you have the right to do so, that you share it in an appropriate way and that the terms under which you share it are appropriate.

In order to share data you have to have the right to do so, In practice this means that you need to ensure that you have the right to do so because you have appropriate intellectual property rights (IPR) in the data. If the data subjects might be able to be identified (i.e. you are realising full data rather than statistical data) then the data subjects need to have been informed that sharing can happen when they agreed to the data being collected (and they had a real ability to opt out of this). Finally you will need to select an appropriate licence under which to release the data.

The options

Intellectual property rights (IPR)

It is likely that you will own the data from any systems that you are running, though it may be necessary to check the licence conditions in case the supplier is laying any claim to the data. However, if the system is externally hosted then it is also possible that the host may lay some claim to the log-file data, and again you may need to check with them.

  • JISC Legal has a section addressing copyright and intellectual property right law

Data protection

Data protection, which addresses what one may do with personal data, is covered by the 1988 Data Protection act, and there is much advice available including:

An alternative approach to addressing the needs of data protection is to anonymise the data.

Licensing the data

Any data automatically comes with copyright, and therefore you need to licence the data in order for other people to legitimately use the data. There are a wide variety of types of licence that you can use, though the most common is likely to be some form of creative commons licence.

Guidance is available from a wide variety of places including:

- Introduction to licensing and IPR

- Creative Commons license:


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