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P. Bernt Hugenholtz

With the incessant growth of the ‘data-driven economy’ have come calls for the introduction of a novel property right in data, particularly in response to the demands of the automotive industry regarding machine-generated data. As it is still unclear who owns these data, the European Commission has advanced the idea of creating at EU level a ‘data producer’s right’ to establish data ownership rules. Although the scope of this novel data right and its subject matter are still quite obscure, this new right would most likely bring the protection of industrial data in the EU to a much higher level than the existing – and already controversial – database right. This chapter wonders whether there is an actual need for creating a property right in industrial data. It therefore enquires into existing intellectual property regimes, asks to what extent these may cover data, and, conversely, speculates how a property right in data might affect these regimes. In addition, the introduction of ownership in data is critically examined as to its likely impact on fundamental rights, in particular on freedom of information and communication. The chapter then concludes against introducing a right of property in data.