Terry Bean asks on the Networked Inc blog “Who Owns Your Network” – I think we all know that by definition, you own your network.

But you can do things to muddy those waters…

People you know and trust

If you’ve followed my instructions and connect to people you know and trust, “your network” is simply a list of people that you’ve built a relationship with.

With a list of names to jog your memory, you’d be able to re-establish connections in no-time.

People you don’t know

Now let’s say you simply collect connections from people across the globe that you have no relationship with – then your list is more of a work product isn’t it?

In fact, if you were to take something that is highly valued and protected – like a list of customers, and connected to them for the sole purpose of selling them something else, you might very well be breaking an agreement that you made in order to get access to that list…

Courting disaster

Anybody can sue for anything, and many people apparently will… People also sue when others mistreat them or break agreements.

The current discussion around ownership is in part fueled by a court case where an individual is alleged to have taken a customer list from company A, and used it to feed company B. Company A wanted access to records and email to explore what had happened, and the court agreed with them.

I have no special insight into the court case, but my point stands.

Hard to go wrong if you connect to people you know and trust

And while you may do business with some of the people you connect to, you’ll have an easy time explaining that all of your interactions are based on a solid relationship – one that can’t be claimed as company property.