Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Joshua D. Sarnoff
Chapter 19: Intellectual property and related rights in climate data
Climate scientists require vast amounts of data to do their work. Viewing the Earth as an integrated system with multiple interdependencies, climate scientists engage in longitudinal analysis of data from sensors monitoring land, sea, and sky around the globe to differentiate climate change from mere weather. Using ever more powerful computing resources, climate scientists seek to integrate all of these data into complex models that can explain, and perhaps predict, the causes and effects of climate change. No single scientific team by itself can gather such data; instead climate scientists must share data among themselves and persuade numerous public and private data gatherers and managers to share data with them. As a general matter, many public policies support or enable data sharing among climate scientists. However, the challenges for effective data sharing in climate research are many-fold. Some arise simply from resource constraints: researchers are willing to share their data but lack the time, funds or infrastructure necessary to annotate or otherwise present their data to allow for meaningful reuse by other researchers. Others arise from competitive or cultural norms in some disciplines that treat data hoarding as acceptable scientific practice. Still other constraints on data sharing arise from policy concerns outside the scope of this chapter, such as privacy or national security concerns over sharing geospatial data, for example. Setting these challenges to the side, this chapter focuses on the ways in which intellectual property law can act as a barrier to data sharing.
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