DPhil student wins an international research prize

6 Dec 2018

A visual representation of data

Václav Janeček (2017, DPhil in Law) was awarded the international Ius Commune Prize for outstanding legal research in Amsterdam last week.

The Ius Commune Prize is given annually to an early career researcher or a doctoral student who has written an article of outstanding quality which falls within the material scope encompassed by the objectives of the Ius Commune Research School, which is to examine the foundations of European legal systems to identify their common legal rules (ius commune). The Ius Commune Research School is a cooperation between the law schools of the Universiteit Maastricht, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the Universiteit Utrecht and the Universiteit van Amsterdam. The associate partners of the Ius Commune Research School are VU University Amsterdam, University of Liège, University of Stellenbosch, and University of Edinburgh.

The jury decided to award the prize to Václav this year for his interdisciplinary research on data ownership in the context of EU law and the national laws of EU Member States. The study applies the traditional conceptions of ownership (Nozickian, pure force/last occupancy, and Humean theories) to ownership of personal data in the Internet of Things. More specifically, his original study looks at the promises and perils of personal data ownership to come up with a constructive framework for legal development in this area. According to their report, the jury was “impressed with the breadth and clarity of analysis of this controversial topic, an analysis which also takes general property law on board. Although it may not bring controversy over data ownership to an end, the jury [found] the paper a contribution to understanding many questions surrounding it.”

The study was published in a world-leading IT law journal, Computer Law and Security Review, earlier this year and was produced as part of Václav’s appointment at the Digital Ethics Lab, within the Oxford Internet Institute, which he held during his DPhil in Law. Václav’s work has already earned attention from legal practitioners, proving its relevance for the future of digital economy and, based on this work, he was appointed as an adviser to the international project on the ‘Principles for a Data Economy’ (we reported on this earlier this year). This project, conducted as a joint project of the European Law Institute (ELI) and the American Law Institute (ALI), studies, identifies, and collates the existing and potential legal rules applicable to transactions in data as an asset and as a tradeable item.

Watch a short video that introduces Václav’s work to non-expert audience in a special issue of the MCR Ex Aula research journal.

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