The following question arose in a discussion:

Hi everyone. I’m helping a couple of local schools to set up apps for education accounts. I’ve been asked by one of my bosses to find out who owns the data that we write in google docs, emails etc. Is it Google or is the owner of the account?

Here’s my response, perhaps incorrect, to the question:

Two possible ways to interpret your question. Allow me–not a lawyer–to attempt a response at both.

Approach #1 – Work for Hire
Anything produced during district time, even after-hours for district purposes, falls under work-for-hire copyright. However, I’ve never heard of a case brought against a teacher. it’s explored in more detail here:

In regards to student data, student’s retain copyright for any work they produce. If you plan on holding onto student work for demonstration purposes beyond the purposes of an assessment period, then you should obtain permission from the student and/or parent if appropriate. Discussion of Creative Commons Copyright Attribution-ShareAlike-

Noncommercial should also be entertained.

Approach #2 – Google as Repository rather than Owner
My understanding is that Google houses the data for you but you still are responsible for it. Here’s what I’m basing that assertion on:

If my responses are inaccurate, please feel free to correct me!

Update 09/22/2010:

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure