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Resolving data ownership issues with external funders, organizations

What rights do funders have over data ownership? Get an expert's take on this data ownership issue. The answer might surprise you.

What rights do funders have over data ownership? Is it acceptable practice for an organization to claim ownership over data created mostly, or even partially through, external funding?
This depends on a few things and, of course, in the absence of more information, it's difficult to speculate.

That being said, can we reflect this scenario to a different model? Let's replace "data" with "widget" — what rights...

do funders have over widget ownership and can an organization claim ownership over widgets created mostly or partially through external funding? I would tend to think that funders stream money into increasing the value of the venture, not the end products of the venture, so the answer might be "no rights."

On the other hand, aren't the assets created by an organization owned by the shareholders? If the funders own the venture, then they also own the assets of the venture, and if data (as intellectual property) is an asset, then the answer might be "all rights."

Why not send in more information and we can try to reason it out a little more carefully next time? Interesting question!

This was last published in August 2009

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