A foundation of intellectual property rights (IPR) is that authors and inventors are entitled to some level of exclusivity over their works in the form of copyrights and patents to incentivize innovation; that’s written into the Constitution. However, various voluntary open innovation practices have emerged, highlighting that developers also can benefit by choosing to widely share certain intellectual property in ways that also can help foster innovation.
While there is no “one size fits all approach,” with the growth of artificial intelligence (AI), there has been a trend to similarly facilitate more voluntary data sharing. Especially considering how AI is being used to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other important needs, voluntary open access to data could have a significant impact in the immediate future. However, practices for voluntarily sharing or providing open access to data are still developing and vary widely (in part because of the state of IPR protection for data). These evolving practices create some challenges for data contributors and users alike. However, the challenges often can be overcome by carefully selecting contract terms to govern the data sharing arrangement that factor in the goals and needs of the participants and relevant legal principles.