Copyfail #7: Not allowing research via “commercial” text and data mining

By EDRi · July 7, 2016

This article is the seventh in the series presenting Copyfails.

The EU is reforming its copyright rules. We want to introduce you to the main failures of the current copyright system, with suggestions on how to fix them. You can find all the Copyfails here.

How has it failed?

We live in an era where information is created and shared more than ever before. Some studies estimate that there are 60 million academic articles in circulation today, and roughly 1,5 million new ones are added every year. This vast amount of information is less useful if it cannot be analysed by automatic means, which nowadays can be done easily. This automatisation of reading and extracting the information is called “text and data mining” (TDM). Copyright law is preventing efficient use of this technology, creating unnecessary barriers to research and innovation. For example, a researcher analysed 5 000 papers on the e-coli bacterium, but was prevented from publishing the results of his analysis, for copyright reasons.

Automatically analysing legally acquired but copyrighted material can be considered a copyright infringement. If there’s a threat that rights holders sue the researchers for analysing copyrighted materials using text and data mining, it will often be easier to “voluntarily” abandon the  research, rather than to go to court.


Why is this important?

The right to read should be the right to analyse. By not clearly allowing the use of text and data mining techniques, the current EU copyright rules are creating needless barriers to innovation and research. Text and data mining in no way harms the author, and it should therefore be allowed in clear and predictable legislation. Like this new technologies can be used to create new ways to access knowledge, and innovation can flourish.

How to fix it?


European Parliament: Standardisation in the area of innovation and technological development, notably in the field of Text and Data Mining: Report from the Expert Group

An analytical review of  text and data mining  practices and approaches  in Europe Policy recommendations in  view of the upcoming  copyright legislative  proposal (01.05.2016)

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Statement on Text and Data Mining (2013)

Text and Data Mining for Research and Innovation: What Europe Must Do Next (30.05.2016)

What the diary of Anne Frank can tell us about Text and Data mining (08.10.2016)

Open Forum Academy White Paper: How to unleash the innovative potential of text and data mining in the EU (22.10.2015)