Data, Data, Data. Who owns it?

  • Price is determined by demand and supply in a market but even if you crash or sky-rocket the price of some equity you don't really own that historical data but who does it own then? Do companies in some exchange own the data of their valuations or do the exchange own the data? It would sound odd that if Demand parties, such as individual speculators, don't own the data why would Supply parties, such as corps, own the data?
  • Or does a programmer own the data if s/he records the data and visualize it in some artistic way?
  • If I am given a random piece of historical valuation data, how can I be sure that it is free to use?
  • So who owns data if it is determined by free market?
  • Can I record equity valuations and get the right to use the data?
  • Who owns the data if it is determined by starting/closing valuations of the day like with some index funds?
  • Which party has a right over data in an open market?
  • By which way you can get access to data like Schiller here? Can I offer data in a similar way over internet if I record it?
  • 1
    I'm not convinced that this is on topic. The question boils down to publishing rights and copyright law. Any thoughts?
    – Alex B
    Apr 26, 2011 at 15:54
  • 2
    IMO the question is on topic: although the answer is about copyright, the question isn't.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 27, 2011 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


I expect that data may be copyright. Data that's published (e.g. on a newsfeed or web site) is subject to terms of use.

Standard & Poor's web site says, about the Shiller indexes,

Who do I contact at S&P to license my use of these indices? Questions regarding licensing the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices can be addressed to: Bo Chung Managing Director [email protected], +1.212.438.3519

As for 'recording' the information yourself, that may depend on how and where (e.g. from what source) you're recording it. If for example you tried to record prices from the Canadian MLS (Realtor's) network, they too have their own terms of use on the data they publish.

Copyright laws vary from country to country (and terms of use certainly vary): for example see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feist_v._Rural which is case law about copyrighting a phone directory in the USA, and contrast that with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Database_right which is European legislation.

So who owns data if it is determined by free market?

I guess that "determined by free market" means that buyers and sellers are publishing their offers-to-buy and their offers-to-sell, and I guess that the publisher (e.g. the stock exchange) has 'terms of use' about the data (the offers) that they're publishing.

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