Rights relating to research data

The Hong Kong Cap 528 Copyright Ordinance doesn't specifically say "research data". However Section 4 on Literary, dramatic and music works explains that "literary work" means any work, other than a dramatic or musical work, which is written, spoken or sung, and accordingly includes-

  • a compilation of data or other material, in any form, which by reason of the selection or arrangement of its contents constitutes an intellectual creation, including but not limiting to a table;
  • a computer program; and
  • preparatory design material for a computer program . . ."

The University of Minnesota Libraries webpage reports that, "Most data is not copyrightable in the U.S. and copyrights usually do not apply and are not enforceable." The UK Data Archive describes when data is copyrightable and how to do so. The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) describes similar.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Intellectual property rights (IPR) include copyright, patents, trademarks and design rights. IPR grant creators or owners of a work certain controls over its use. Some rights such as patents require registration, while others, such as copyright, accrue automatically upon the work's creation. IPR affect the way both you and others can use your research outputs. Failure to clarify rights at the start of the research process can lead to unexpected limitations for:

  • Your research
  • Its dissemination
  • Future related research projects, and
  • Associated profit or credit

Research funders often expect you to clarify IPR at the grant proposal stage in your data management plan.

The HKU Intellectual Property Rights Policy sets out ownership of intellectual property rights of staff and students and explains the University position on both copyright and patents. Clause 5.1.3 (c) reads, "If research data included in a thesis are obtained by a collaborative effort (including collaboration between the Student and a supervisor or other researcher at the University), such data may be the joint property of the Student and the collaborating party. It is strongly advised that Students and supervisors/researchers make clear agreements in advance concerning the ownership and use of Intellectual Property Rights created in connection with a Student thesis."

Ethical Research

Ethical research requires ethical collection and storage of research data.

Collection and storage of personal data must comply with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, and data collected from humans or live vertebrate animals needs approval from ethics committees.

The pages linked below give further details.


Acknowledgement: University College Dublin, Libguide on RDM: Rights & Licensing