Article title Theory of Propertization of Data: Critical Analysis from the View of Property Law Doctrine

PhD in law, Associated professor, Assistant of Civil Law Department Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University (Kharkiv, Ukraine) ORCID ID:


Name of magazine Legal journal «Law of Ukraine» (Ukrainian version)
Issue 5/2021
Сторінки [85-102]

The modern “digital” economy is characterized by the transformation of the nature of data (personal data, non-personal data, and Big Data). While previously data used to be understood as merely a non-material and even non-alienable object, today data has become an alienable good and a kind of payment. That is why in modern economy the term ‘commodification of data’ has appeared, whereas in legal doctrine the theory of propertization of data, which considers data as a new kind of property, has taken its place.

The aim of this article is to analyze the legal nature of data and to determine whether data may be considered a type of property based on economic analysis of the concept of property and on the classical understanding of this concept in the Ukrainian legal tradition.

The analysis has affirmed that the theory of propertization of data is based on the economic analysis of law and has a rational background. However, the apparent flaw of the theory is that there are a lot of discrepancies between the theory and the classical doctrine of property law. In particular, from the latter’s perspective non-material and nonalienable subjects may not be considered property and fall within the property law.

Hence, based on the results of the research the author resumes that the theory of propertization may not be considered as a methodologic basis of the legal framework for the transferability of data. Meanwhile, since the transferability of data has much in common with the transferability of the results of intellectual activity, it is correct to apply not the concept of property, but the concept of exceptional rights. Thus, individuals owning or acquiring data may be classified into primary and secondary data possessors, where the primary possessors have both material and non-material rights to data, and the secondary possessors may have only material rights. Individuals who possess non-personal data (e. g. anonymized data) have material rights to them.


Keywords personal data; Big data; massif of data; commodification of data; theoryofpropertization of data; property right



Authored books

1. Sklovskii K, Sobstvennost v grazhdanskom prave (4-ie izd, Statut 2008) (in Russian). Edited books 2. Zech H, ‘Data as a Tradeable Commodity – Implications for Contract Law’ in Drexl J (ed), Proceedings of the 18th EIPIN Congress: The New Data Economy between Data Ownership, Privacy and Safeguarding Competition (Edward Elgar Publishing 2017) (in English).

3. Spasybo-Fateeva I ta insi (red), Tsivilnyi kodeks Ukrainy: naukjvj-praktychnyi komentar, t 4 (Straid 2010) (in Ukrainian).

 4. Spasybo-Fateeva I ta insi (red), Tsivilnyi kodeks Ukrainy: naukjvj-praktychnyi komentar, t 6 (Straid 2010) (in Ukrainian).


Journal articles

 5. Canellopoulou-Bottis M, Bouchagiar G, ‘Personal Data v Big Data: Challenges of Commodification of Personal Data’ [2018] 8 (2) Open Journal of Philosophy 206–15 (in English).

 6. Determann L, ‘No One Owns Data’ [2018] 70 (265) UC Hastings Research Paper 1–44 (in English).

7. Hazel SH, ‘Personal Data as Property’ [2020] 70 (4) Syracuse Law Review 1055–1113 (in English).

8. Janeček V, ‘Ownership of Personal Data in the Internet of Things’ [2018] 34 (5) Computer Law & Security Review 1039–52 (in English).

9. Jurcys P and others, ‘My Data, My Terms: A Proposal for Personal Data Use Licenses’ [2020] 33 (Digest Spring) Harvard Journal of Law & Technology Digest 1–14 (in English).

10. Purtova N, Bouchagiar G, ‘Property in Personal Data: A European Perspective on the Instrumentalist Theory of Propertisation’ [2010] 2 (3) European Journal of Legal Studies 193–208 (in English).

11. Purtova N, ‘Property Rights in Personal Data: Learning from the American Discourse’ [2009] 25 (6) Computer Law & Security Review 507–21 (in English).

12. Ritter J, Mayer A, ‘Regulating Data as Property: A New Construct for Moving Forward’ [2018] 16 (1) Duke Law & Technology Review 220–77 (in English).

13. Schwartz P M, ‘Property, Privacy, and Personal Data’ [2004] 117 HARV. L. REV. 2055–2128 (in English).

14. Zarsky T, ‘Incompatible: The GDPR in the Age of Big Data’ [2017] 47 (4(2)) Seton Hall Law Review 995–1020, 998–9 (in English).

15. Ivanova D, ‘Teorii intellektualnoi sobstvennosty: dogmatycheskoe issledovanye’ [2013] 24 (2) Pravo I demokratyia: sb nauch trudov 183–97 (in Russian).

16. Marushchak A, ‘Tsyvilni prava na informatsiiu’ [2009] 3 (12) Chasopys tsyvilistyky 33–6 (in Ukrainian).

17. Nekit K, ‘Personalni dani ta industrialni dani yak ob’iekty prava vlasnosti: otsinka perspektyv’ [2020] 1 (36) Chasopys tsyvilistyky 57–64 (in Ukrainian).

18. Saveliev A, ‘Grazhdansko-pravoviie aspekty regulirovaniia oborota dannyh v usloviiah popytok formirovaniia tsyfrovoi ekonomiki’ [2020] 20 (1) Vestnik grazdanskogo prava 60–92 (in Russian).

19. Saveliev A, ‘Napravleniia regulirovaniia Bolshih dannyh i neprikosnovennost chastnoi zhizni v novyh ekonomicheskih realiiah’ [2018] (5) Zakon 122–43 (in Russian).

20. Shymon S, ‘Mainovi prava v konteksti suchasnykh kontseptsii prava vlasnosti v tsyvilistytsi’ [2012] 49 (2) Chasopys Kyivskoho universytetu prava 192–5 (in Ukrainian).



21. Crișan C, Zbuchea A, Moraru S, ‘Big Data: The Beauty or the Beast’ (Strategica: Management, Finance, and Ethics) <> (accessed: 08.032021) (in English).

22. Hoeren T, Pinelli S, ‘The New Californian Data Protection Law – In the Light of the EU General Data Protection Regulation’ (SSRN, 20.03.2020) < papers.cfm?abstract_id=3557964> (accessed: 08.032021) (in English).



23. Radon Barbara, ‘Trade Secrets Protection for “Big Data”: Personal Data as Trade Secrets in the European Union’ (2015/16) MIPLC Master Thesis Series < abstract=3012525> (accessed: 08.03.2021) (in English).


Conference papers

24. Pazos Ricardo, ‘Personal Data as an Economic Good – Misleading Commercial Practices and Social Networks’ (July 1, 2017) How Deep Is Your Law? Brexit. Technologies. Modern Conflicts. Conference Papers (Vilnius University Faculty of Law 2017) 288–97 <> (accessed: 08.03.2021) (in English).