Five science groups call on legislators to extend text and data mining rights

12 Jan 2017 | News
Copyright file making its way through European Parliament should be redrafted to include a broader set of exceptions for R&D, science funding and research bodies say

Five research lobby groups are calling on legislators to broaden exceptions from copyright on text and data mining, in a redraft of proposals issued last autumn.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the science organisations request an expanded set of rights on text and data mining. The letter is signed by CESAER, the Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research; EUA, the European University Association; LERU, the League of European Research Universities; LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries and Science Europe. Together they represent hundreds of universities, libraries, funders and research bodies.

The Commission in September proposed to give researchers a freer rein to use computer programmes to data mine research papers, but there were loud complaints that it did not go far enough. Universities, research institutes and research-performing companies stand to gain in the new rules, but start-ups are excluded.

“It is counterproductive to arbitrarily limit the beneficiaries of the exception for [text and data mining] to research organisations for the purpose of scientific research purposes only. The exception must be redrafted so that any individual or organisation with legal access to content can also legally use digital technologies to mine that content,” the statement reads.

“An exception that turns its back to start-ups is contrary to the innovation principle pursued by the EU institutions and detrimental to the innovation activities undertaken by universities,” LERU adds on its website.

The Commission justifies limiting mining rights on the grounds that extra requests could make science publishers’ websites slower for everyone to use. Use of mining in Europe is significantly lower than in the US and Asia, most probably due to current limitations imposed by European rules.

The groups also call for libraries and universities to be excluded from so-called ancillary copyright rules, so they aren’t charged by news publishers for reporting and linking news items on their websites. The idea has already been trialled in Germany and Spain, with little success.

“Without these modifications, cross-border research activities and the deployment of new technologies for research and innovation will be impeded by legal uncertainty,” the statement says.

The Commission draft is now going to the European Parliament, with legislation expected by March.

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