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Selling Data

  1. Jun 10, 2009 #1
    If I were to take published data from public NASA reports and printed Journal articles and sell the data (after doing some processing to it), would that be grounds for a lawsuit against me? I'm wouldnt be selling the article itself, but taking important data from articles over a span of 40 years and putting it all into one data set.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2009 #2


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    you need to ask for a permission from the publisher
  4. Jun 10, 2009 #3


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    yep, that's right.
  5. Jun 10, 2009 #4
    If you tried to make a service out of repackaging or rebranding other people's publishings and re-selling them, then yes, they'd have quite a case against you. But if you are collecting research from a wide variety of sources on a particular subject (from public sources), then you have every right to sell that. Essentially you're selling your research / investigation services.
  6. Jun 10, 2009 #5
    It would depend on what sort of processing you are doing and how much of your own material is the product. To republish any data in full you will definitely need permission. If you only cite data and republish certain bits which you are using for your own conclusions you can likely get away with just a citation.
  7. Jun 10, 2009 #6


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    hey Evo why are you always offline, like a cop sneaking around:biggrin:, just wanna say hello!
  8. Jun 10, 2009 #7
    To be clear, I'm not selling the articles. I would like to strip the important data from the article, code it in MATLAB, and sell this data. The data is from old wind tunnel testing. All these papers are free to download from the NASA server. I think some of the people that wrote these papers are dead by now (but not all).

    Basically, you would come to me and say you want information on airplane X. And I would give you a file with all the information I could gather on airplane X.
  9. Jun 10, 2009 #8


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    As a principle all data from US government agencies is freely available. The typeset papers are of course the copyright of the journal, but using the data is fine.
  10. Jun 10, 2009 #9


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    Ask a professor, or the IP office at university. There is a certain level of usage under 'fair use' in which you use that data with appropriate attribution. Where you take the data, and then 'sell' it, then one would most likely need the permission of the publisher. The content of the articles are copyrighted in who or in part. The NASA data may be released into the publis domain, and there is usually a statement to that effect. It's customary to obtain permission from the authors.

    I've taken limited data or equations from journal articles and used in my work. The data, equations, and results are only available in proprietary reports and so are not published.
  11. Jun 10, 2009 #10


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    as long as you're [selling] your paper, you need that permission from the [publisher] not the author
  12. Jun 10, 2009 #11
    I'm not selling a paper, I'm not even writing a paper.

    I'm going to look into this and ask some folks at NASA tomorrow on the phone.
  13. Jun 10, 2009 #12
    I just remembered. We were talking about this a few months ago. Copyright on material gained through public funding is shorter than standard copyright. Possibly as short as a year I think. If this is correct and the material has fallen into the public domain you can republish and sell it all you want. I'll look around a bit.
    Contacting NASA is probably a good idea either way.
  14. Jun 10, 2009 #13
    In a nutshell, I've found a bunch of old NASA reports that contain several million bucks worth of flight testing which I don't think people realize exist. Having this data would be of tremendous value to the research community because these reports have information that is proprietary to companies, but now public thanks to NASA.

    Going through all these reports and processing them would take a few years of solid work to get done though. But in the end, you would have a very good, strong product that I have not seen offered anywhere (but I could be wrong).

    It would be full nonlinear simulation models of any aircraft.
  15. Jun 10, 2009 #14


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    You could argue that you are not republishing, but are acting as a consultant engaged in reformatting publicly available data. That your customer is using the data, and you are acting as an agent whose work product is on data that they are asking you to change in a way suitable to their use.

    To dot the i's calling someone at NASA and getting a permission is the best course of action if the data is on their servers.
  16. Jun 10, 2009 #15
    If you were to take this data and make it into a book, it would probably be on the level of Theory of Wing Sections by Abbot and Doenhoff.
  17. Jun 10, 2009 #16


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    You might want to find a customer to fund your effort to begin with, if that is at all feasible. I would be a little nervous after a lot of work, if a big company lawyer subsequently discovered you were offering something for general sale and you hadn't secured all necessary permissions. Right or wrong side of a suit means it had better be worth a lot to you if lawyers get involved.
  18. Jun 10, 2009 #17
    Forgive me for playing the skeptic here, but computational fluid dynamics has come a long way, and although this isn't my area, I would be pretty surprised if there weren't some very nice software solutions out there that could give accurate results for any CAD model of an aircraft. What use is several million dollars of research in man-hours in wind tunnels when you've got modern software and powerful computers to simulate it on demand? I could be totally wrong but it might be something to consider before you go to the effort.
  19. Jun 10, 2009 #18
    Information can be made publicly available that is copyright protected and where the copyright holder expressly gives permission for certain types of use. 'For Profit' use is usually not given in these cases.

    So far as I have found NASA does not hold copyright for any of its own material though apparently some NASA material is copyrighted to individuals. This I found specifically in regards to NASA images and media though. As far as information gathered from reports go it would seem you are likely free to republish Cyrus. If the testing you mention was actually paid for by private companies though that may be a problem. If the subject of the information is the product of a third party, especially when that party has paid for the aquisition of the data, you will likely need their permission.
  20. Jun 10, 2009 #19
    My work is on CFD comparisons of Wind Tunnel Data, so I understand what you are saying, however, this is still of very high value. CFD is not at a point yet to replace actual flight test data. It is computationally very expensive, requires someone very knowledgable in CFD to run the code and set up the correct boundary conditions, and would take months of run time for Data that isnt actual flight data anyways.

    Flight Data is the Gold Standard.

    As a side note: Does anyone know if there is a program that can read a graph on a PDF file and determine the data points on the graph and put that into a vector so I wouldn't have to read it by hand and extract out values?
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  21. Jun 11, 2009 #20
    I highly doubt it...PDF files have no notion of a "graph", its all just line segments, just as abstract as pixels, so this would have to be done based purely on vision, and the visual representation of graph visual styles is so variable that I doubt anyone has attempted to make a generic product for doing this.

    If you have a bunch of graphs in a similar format, custom software could be written to accomplish the task. If that's something you're interested in I might be able to help you out (my specialty happens to be in computer vision programming).
  22. Jun 11, 2009 #21
    The problem is that these reports are old and sometimes xeroxed into a pdf. So you're talking about dozens and dozens of graphs in a single report that all have to be manually entered into a computer.

    That's why doing this would make (a) one hell of a good book thats not currently in the literature, or (b) information you could sell to people. But it would require a few years of non stop transcribing of this data. There are dozens of reports with dozens of graphs per report that all have to be processed.
  23. Jun 11, 2009 #22
    well, it would help if I actually bothered to READ the NASA website:

    "Accessibility: Unclassified; No Copyright; Unlimited; Publicly available"
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