Academic journal article Journal of Corporation Law

Forecasting Change: Examining the Future of Agricultural Data Processors and Ownership Rights

Academic journal article Journal of Corporation Law

Forecasting Change: Examining the Future of Agricultural Data Processors and Ownership Rights

Article excerpt

I.   INTRODUCTION II.  BACKGROUND      A. The Development of Agricultural Technology Providers      B. Agricultural Technology Providers' Benefits for Farmers      C. Who Owns the Data? Farmers' Concerns Regarding Data Privacy      D. Categorizing Agricultural Data Under the Current Legal         Framework         1. Analyzing Agricultural Data Under the Trade Secret Regime         2. Examining the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Defend            Trade Secrets Act of 2016      E. Analyzing Analogous Social Media User Agreements III. ANALYSIS      A. The Future of Agricultural Data: Legal Uncertainties         1. In Support of an Open Data Sharing Policy: How            Iowa's Policies Have Attracted Data Aggregators            and Aid Impoverished Nations         2. How Agricultural Data is being Used Around the            World by Scientists to Combat Climate Change      B. Analyzing Agricultural Data Under Current Legal         Regimes: Applying the Trade Secret Factors         1. The UTSA Application & Iowa's Interpretation         2. Protections and Limitations of the Defend Trade            Secrets Act         3. Distinguishing Traditional Trade Secret Analysis            and Data Aggregation's Applicability      C. Responding to Farmers' Data Security Concerns         1. Independent Competition: Farmers Have Options         2. Analyzing Privacy Agreements and hiQ's Holding            as Applied to Agricultural Data IV.  RECOMMENDATION      A. Free Speech Data Sharing Versus Standard Third-Party Data         Aggregation: Data Aggregators' Reliance on the HiQ         Framework Would be a Mistake      B. Protecting Innovation in the Marketplace: Courts Should         Interpret Agricultural Data as a Trade Secret      C. Advertising the Social Benefits of Data Aggregation V.   CONCLUSION 


Today, agricultural data technology innovations have yielded major benefits for farming efficiency. However, those innovations come with a host of privacy and data concerns for local farmers that has left Congress at a standstill for a resolution. (1) Collaboration with "big data" companies provides farmers with invaluable levels of information for their farming needs, but also spurs concerns that farmers are sacrificing too much control over their own private farming data. (2) A variety of "big data" companies are trying to ease some of these concerns by compromising on a solution that leaves farmers satisfied with the level of control over their data without sacrificing the benefits of open sharing of data. (3) As such, there are a variety of important property ownership issues that courts will have to resolve as this data technology becomes more commonplace. This Note will explore these legal issues while recommending that data companies aggressively engage farmers privately through contract to avoid future litigation.

Part II discusses the background and historical development of agricultural technology providers and how advancements in data storage and the rise of third- party data aggregators have created a host of complicated legal concerns for farmers and agricultural technology providers. Part III analyzes a variety of opinions related to advising farmers on proactively confronting these issues and how data aggregators can ease their privacy concerns. Part IV recommends contract provisions and introduces policy arguments for why data companies should aggressively advocate for the mutual benefits of open data sharing with farmers.


This Note first examines the advancements in agricultural technology and introduces the legal issues these advancements created. It then explores how farmers have benefitted from this technological advancement while also introducing key issues of data privacy. Finally, this Part introduces Iowa's interpretation of uniform trade secret laws and their potential applicability to agricultural data providers. …

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