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Microsoft Source-Code Leaks

The real lesson here is that once you give your content to outsiders, you lose control over it. When your data is one handshake away, as in the Microsoft case, there's little chance of misunderstanding or miscommunication about its confidentiality. But as the number of handshakes increases, you have less control over where the intellectual property ends up.

Even though there are strict regulations governing the disclosure of public data, the person alleged to have leaked the content was three steps away from the owner, and the programmer who wrote the code added another step. Every step away from the content owner weakens that party's control over its distribution and use.

When faced with a choice whether to give out data, determine what you need to release and imagine worst-case scenarios. Then make sure your agreements spell out what can and can't be done with the data. Although these measures aren't foolproof, at least all the stakeholders will be aware of the risks.

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