Navigating Legal Rights in Spatial Media

Teresa Scassa

in Rob Kitchin, Tracey P. Lauriault and Matthew W. Wilson, eds. Understanding Spatial Media, Sage Publications, 2017.


The collection or generation of spatial data is often the result of a significant investment of time, money and labour. As a result, compilations of spatial data have been routinely treated as a form of property. The propertization of data allows an owner to construct fences around the data so as to exclude unauthorized uses. There have been significant debates over access to and use of spatial data resources, particularly those that are in the hands of governments. Many (though not all) governments assert intellectual property rights over their data, and do so as a means of control. The open data movement has pushed for a relinquishment of this control, and this has resulted in the release of government datasets under licenses that contain few if any restrictions. The rapidly evolving data landscape and the ways in which the data revolution is changing both the delivery of government services and the kind and quantity of data generated by these services are poised to transform how ownership of and access to data is negotiated between data owners and data users. In the context of public services, ownership and control issues will be complicated by the presence of private sector companies who partner in the collection and generation of data. This chapter considers the interrelationship between claims to property rights in data and rights to access and use that data in a rapidly changing data environment.

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About the Author:

Teresa Scassa is the Canada Research Chair in Information Law. She is a founder and former editor of the Canadian Journal of Law and Technology; author of Canadian Trademark Law (LexisNexis, 2010); co-author of Electronic Commerce and Internet Law in Canada (CCH Canadian Ltd, 2012), which was the winner of the 2013 Walter Owen Book Prize; and co-author of Canadian Intellectual Property Law: Cases, Notes and Materials (Emond Montgomery, 2013). She is also a co-editor of the recently published Intellectual Property for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Irwin Law, 2014). She is a member of the External Advisory Committee of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and of the Canadian Government Advisory Committee on Open Government. She has written widely in the areas of intellectual property law, law and technology, and privacy.

Click here to visit her Faculty web page.

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