In its Communication on Building a European Data Economy, the European Commission is taking steps towards a new copyright-like protection for raw data (“Data producer’s right”, pg. 13). This is the final bad idea Günther Oettinger submitted as parting digital Commissioner – it would have far-reaching dire consequences and must be rejected.
This idea would protect any series of ones and zeros like creative works are protected today. This would create immense transactional costs and huge legal uncertainty for anyone creating and re-using data, such as researchers or innovative startups. Dealing with pure data such as access logs, sensor data or measurements would become as complex as dealing with copyrighted works is today.
In the age of the Internet of Things it is becoming increasingly important to guarantee that users have access to data they create through their use of a device or service. A right to data portability to another service is also overdue – the Commission should redouble the portability efforts outlined today. A new intellectual property right for data is, however, a badly misguided approach. Companies would simply make users surrender such rights when signing up – rather than increased autonomy, we’d see user data become even more of a market commodity.
The Commission would be replicating the database protection debacle. The globally unique European intellectual property right for databases didn’t just fail to fulfill its goal of stimulating the EU data economy, but in fact today frequently stands in the way of the innovative use of data.
The public consultation launched on the issue today presents the opportunity for the public to decisively reject the idea of a new copyright for raw data. We should use it!
To the extent possible under law, the creator has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.