Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, August 13, 2007

Licensing personal genome data

Jason Bobe, Can a personal genome sequence get a creative commons license?  The Personal Genome, August 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

The short answer is no. There is a long essay waiting to be written here. But for now, I can say that the reason it will not work is because there is no clear legal foundation to build a license on top of when it comes to sequence data. Creative Commons licenses have copyright to build on. Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) have good old fashioned property law to build on (turns out important things still exist outside of the bitsphere). A personal genome sequence is, well, just bits.

If we could, why might a CC-like license for personal genome sequences be useful to an individual? ...

I may not want to give blanket permission to the entire research community to use my data. What about research that I find ethically or morally objectionable? A person might want to reserve some rights in these situations, but they might also want to give blanket permission for research on cancer for example. An efficient compromise might be for me to use a CC-like license to pre-approve the use of my sequence data for some purposes, but not for others. There might be other conditions I would want to place on the use of data. For example, I might require all researchers who use my data to publish in OA journals (kind of like the CC share-alike clause)....