LAStools has a interesting post by Martin Isenburg about the copyright issues related to LiDAR data from vendor sources on the web. It is a very good discussion about making LiDAR data available for educational use. The discussion has also gone over to LinkedIn with comments in the LAStools group.
While LiDAR data should be copyrighted by the vendor who scans an area, as it is a different random point cloud each time, the private sector should make datasets available to the educational sector to perform research and development which generates good public relations press for each vendor who allows data to be used for educational and research and development use. They can use either the Creative Commons or have their own legal departments produce agreements for the release/licensing use of the data. Public sector data by vendors is more easily obtainable for public/educational use as it is paid for by public funds.
This is a discussion the entire LiDAR/Geomatics community should have as the technology moves forward with advances in sensors and processing.