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#NAMA: Considering intellectual property rights over non-personal data

“If it falls under intellectual property, then the government can definitely claim right over such data sets,” declared a lawyer at MediaNama’s roundtable discussion on non-personal data held in November 2019, as participants deliberated if sharing non-personal data, with the government or with other private entities, would infringe on companies' intellectual property rights. (Note: The discussion was held under the Chatham House Rule; quotes have not been attributed to specific people. Quotes are not verbatim and have been edited for clarity and to preserve anonymity. Also note that this discussion took place before the PDP Bill, 2019, was made public.) Is data ownership a useful concept? Defining property rights over data: A speaker explained that ownership does not automatically translate into private property ownership and thus defining ownership becomes critical. “What are the rights? Is it the right of access? Are we worried about integrity of the data? Is our focus entirely on NPD [non-personal data] in the context of free flow? That if it is not proprietary, then technically we would want it to be through an open API available to all in a machine-readable format,” they said. A lawyer said, “It is not data per se that we have to look at in terms of ownership, but the manner in which the data is going to be used, in which it will be monetised, which is where the issues will start cropping up”. Citing the rejection of the ‘hot news’ doctrine by the Delhi High Court, they said…

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