SQLServerCentral Editorial

Data Ownership


I'm sure by now most of you know that digital music, especially that copied from person to person, has been under attack for a long time by the RIAA. I caught an article that talks about your own person "ripped" CDs still being unauthorized by the RIAA.

Without getting into the debate on music, I was very surprised that my making a copy of my own CD, for my use, was "stealing." That's a whole other debate, but I thought it had an interested correlation with us as DBAs.

Music is just a collection of bits, at least all music these days that's sold. I don't think anyone records in analog formats. The recording industry seems to liken their bits of music to the bits of software in that we are purchasing a license to listen to the music and we don't actually "own" the bits, but instead have a perpetual license.

There are variations of this as some software seems to be tied to a particular machine, so we have a type of limited license. The music industry (and movie) seems to think our license is somehow tied to the physical delivery method (CD or DVD) and not necessarily a perpetual license if the medium is destroyed.

So do we own our data?

There are certainly privacy implications for some data and many industries and companies are limited in their uses or disclosure of that data. I have rights to my medical data, after paying a (not so) small fee for "copying" it, but my doctor also has some right to maintain that data as a part of the patient record. So who owns it?

If we "build" or generate data as part of a sale in our company, do we "own" the data? If we've received data from a client, are we renting it? Are we free to do with it what we want? Can data even be owned?

The whole idea is actually confusing and while we know information has value, and data should be protected, to what extent to we own pieces of data that we generate? I really have no idea how to answer the question, but it struck me that the data I have, I might not own.

It gets thorny, especially as more and more of our data gets "published" or released into the wild. I have lots of photographs that I have taken, and presumably own. And if they were of interest to people and I wanted to sell them, would I be allowed? If my bits contain people or places belonging to others, can I profit from them?

Maybe I'll just stick to writing. At least there I know what I own.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcasts

The Great Music

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