Contracts & Legal

Data Rights

Data Rights (FAR Subpart 27.4) consist of the legal rights a contractor and/or the government have to use technical, Intellectual Property (IP), and software data. This data can include a proposal, source selection, software, management, concepts, and technical packages.

Definition: Data Rights refer to the Government’s nonexclusive license rights in two categories of valuable intellectual property, “technical data” and “computer software” delivered by contractors under civilian agency and DoD contracts.

Types of Data Rights

There are eight (8) major data right types:

  1. Unlimited
  2. Limited
  3. Copyrighted
  4. Government Purpose Rights
  5. Specifically Negotiated License Rights
  6. Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Data Rights
  7. Commercial Technical Data License Rights
  8. Commercial Computer Software Licenses.

1. Unlimited Rights Data

The rights of the Government to use, disclose, reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, in any manner and for any purpose, and to have or permit others to do so. The Government acquires unlimited rights in the following data except for copyrighted works:

  • Data first produced in the performance of a contract (except to the extent the data constitute minor modifications to data that are limited rights data or restricted computer software).
  • Form, fit, and function data delivered under contract.
  • Data (except as may be included with restricted computer software) that constitute manuals or instructional and training material for installation, operation, or routine maintenance and repair of items, components, or processes delivered or furnished for use under a contract.
  • All other data delivered under the contract other than limited rights data or restricted computer software

2. Limited Rights Data

This right enables a contractor to protect qualifying limited rights data and restricted computer software by withholding the data from the Government and instead delivering form, fit, and function data. If a contractor has funded the development of an item completely at private expense, then he may limit the government’s use of technical data using “limited” license rights, or restrict the government’s use using “restricted” license rights.

  • Limited Rights: means the government may use the data within the government but not release the technical data outside of the government (not even to support contractors), except if necessary for emergency repair or overhaul, and may not use the data for manufacturing additional quantities of the item.
  • Restricted Rights: means the government may only run the software on one computer at a time, may make only the minimum copies needed for backup, but may make modifications to the software. The software may not be released outside of the government except for emergency repair or overhaul

3. Copyrighted Data

Copyright data is information that is owned by a contractor or the government. A contractor must obtain permission prior to asserting rights in any copyrighted work containing data first produced in the performance of a contract. However, contractors are normally authorized, without prior approval of the contracting officer, to assert copyright in technical or scientific articles based on or containing such data that is published in academic, technical or professional journals, symposia proceedings, and similar works.

4. Government Purpose Rights

Frequently, both government and private funds are used in development efforts. In these cases, the contractor may be entitled to offer technical data or computer software with Government Purpose Rights (GPR). GPR is essentially a middle path unique to defense contracts that offers a way for contractors to exploit intellectual property commercially for a limited period of time while the government also gets immediate benefits.

5. Specifically Negotiated License Rights (SNLR)

This category pertains whenever the standard license arrangements are modified to the mutual agreement of the contractor and the government. In this case, the exact terms are spelled out in a specific license agreement unique to each application. [1]

6. Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Data Rights

This category pertains to all technical data or computer software generated under an SBIR contract. The Government cannot release or disclose outside the Government except to Government support contractors.

7. Commercial Technical Data License Rights

This category applies to technical data related to commercial items (developed at private expense) and is managed in the same manner as Limited Rights.

8. Commercial Computer Software Licenses

This category applies to any commercial computer software or software documentation and is controlled as specified in the commercial license offered to the public.

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Updated: 4/27/2022

Rank: G7.1

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