I was reading this link and it says at the bottom that:

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

I also read that data is not copyrightable, as stated here. I suspect the latter is true but I am not sure - if so, is the former not legally enforceable?

2 Answers 2


My remarks pertain only to US Law. Laws vary in other countries.

Subject matter eligible for copyright protection in the US must be expressive and creative. To the extent data are merely measurements of observable fact in the world, they are not copyrightable. It may be that the presentation or interpretation of data is eligible for copyright protection (for example, artwork used in charts, graphs, graphics, etc., that is expressive and creative), subject to various equitable use provisions (in particular Fair Use, which is still a legal grey area).

The methods by which data are gathered can be considered IP, but is the domain of patents. Methods are not copyrightable (17 USC 102(b)).


Raw, factual data cannot be copyrighted.

What can be copyrighted is unique and original presentations. That does not apply to data in "plain vanilla," tabular form.

But you must be careful about copying any presentation item that is "unique."

Also, if the data has been aggregated, massaged, or worked up in any non-standard way, that may be copyrightable.

  • "Raw, factual data cannot be copyrighted." - but it can, depending on the jurisdiction, be protected by database rights. In particular, all of the jurisdictions of the European Union have rather strong protection of database rights. Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 8:21

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