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Contract Guidelines on Data Utilization Rights ver. 1.0 Formulated

Concerning the issue of the free flow of data, there is an issue that currently businesses often do not clearly define rights of data utilization between companies, causing slow progress in the efforts for free flow of such data. To solve this problem, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the IoT Acceleration Consortium (ITAC) organized approaches to developing appropriate contracts for stipulating user and transfer rights for data which is created, acquired or collected by businesses through their activities, and compiled the organized information into the “Contract Guidelines on Data Utilization Rights ver. 1.0”. In line with the guidelines, they also compiled public opinions submitted in response to the public call for responses to the draft guidelines.

1. Background

As the amount of data in circulation has increased dramatically due to the rise of IoT, AI and other technological innovations, businesses are hoping to create new added value through collaborations in the field of data across borders between companies.

However, a lack of clear definitions and terms for data use in contracts between business partners hinders businesses from making progress in concluding contracts thereby causing slow progress in the efforts to achieve the free flow of data.

To resolve this problem, METI and ITAC established a Data Distribution Promotion Working Group under the IoT Acceleration Consortium (chair: Dr. Hiroyuki Morikawa, Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo), and the working group has been holding discussions on the formulation of guidelines organized into approaches to and opinions on appropriate and impartial creation of terms and definitions for contracts between businesses agreeing to the utilization of data obtained in the course of doing business, for e.g., approaches to setting data utilization rights according to the level of business’s contribution to data creation.

In April 2017, the working group compiled a draft of the guidelines. In response, from April 26 to May 24, 2017, there was a public call for comments on this paper and 17 entities and individuals submitted their opinions. Based on the discussions of the working group and submitted opinions, METI and ITAC prepared the final guidelines. They also organized the results of the submitted public opinions into a report.

2. Outline of the guidelines

1) Purpose

The guidelines aim to show rationales for and methods of creating impartial rules for contracts between businesses for data utilization rights. They are expected to be utilized by a wide variety of people who are interested in data utilization, as well as personnel of companies in charge of negotiating or concluding such agreements.

2) Targets of the guidelines

The guidelines are also expected to be utilized by businesses in creating contracts agreeing to the use of data created in the course of business activities within the confines of the contracts.

3) Selecting data and defining permissions for utilization

  1. Data Selection
    The guidelines demonstrate rationales for and methods of: selecting target data to be included in the scope of contracts, by considering relevance to transactions and actual or potential utilization; and of making data catalogs and other lists based on discussions between parties.
  2. Defining data utilization permissions
    The guidelines show key elements that businesses should focus on in creating appropriate and impartial rules for data utilization; provide a rationale for each specific use category and explain approaches that businesses should consider in negotiating and coordinating the details or terms of contracts.

4) Examples of applications for the guidelines

The guidelines also provide case examples as below in which the guidelines are expected to be utilized, but utilization should not be limited to these cases.

  1. A manufacturing company operates machine tools, which it has purchased from a machine tool manufacturer, in its plant using middleware, which it has purchased from a software vendor, and as a result, the company creates operation data.
  2. A manufacturer provides data to a data service company, which analyzes the data utilizing AI and returns the analysis to the manufacturer.

The guidelines were formulated after repeated discussions in light of the current situation of business.  METI and ITAC will continue to revise the guidelines to maintain their relevance to the current state of data sharing in business.

METI expects businesses to effectively utilize the guidelines and to specifically advance their collaboration in the field of data.


Release date

May 30, 2017

Division in Charge

Information Economy Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
Copyright Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. All Rights Reserved.