Fascinating article recently in the Wall Street Journal. The headline in the Business and Finance section was, “Banks Clash with NYSE Over Data“.

It seems the NYSE has a new Master User Agreement that all firms that trade in the exchange has to sign. It seems that the new agreement implies that the NYSE owns the order data submitted to the exchange by a trader to process a transaction. The issue is the traders thought they owned “their own” data. So who does own an order?

Exchanges like the NYSE often aggregate this data and then sell it back to the same firms that submitted, in the form of real-time streams. This aggregated data and in fact any other analytics on such data is clearly valuable. But the NYSE is making an effort to own the data itself.

This is a major issue that is hiding in front of all of us:

  • Who owns the metadata about your next phone call?
  • Who owns the search and website bread crumbs you leave behind?
  • Who owns you credit card transaction history?
  • Who owns the purchase order you use submitted to Amazon for a new book?

Most of these items have been in the press in terms of who has access to and ownership of such data. There is so much data we create that is just ‘out there’ and in most of the cases I note above there is small print that says that you (and I) accepted other can keep or use that data when we entered into using the associated services.

But what about firms and their B2B customer order, or purchase order data? What about the data captured in an RFP, for software or for a building project? What about all those public sector projects?

Perhaps we should all, always, publish a disclaimer whenever we say, write or type something:

The author of this material reserves the full, perpetual, and conclusive rights to such material and does not cede any of those rights to you, the reader, unless explicitly given.”

Of course, to explicitly give you the rights I would have to wrote it down. Who would then own that material?

(About the author: Andrew White is a research vice president and agenda manager for MDM and analytics at Gartner Group. This post originally appeared on his Gartner blog, which can be viewed here).

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