The legal and policy framework for scientific data sharing, mining and reuse

Author : Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay

Text and Data Mining, the automatic processing of large amounts of scientific articles and datasets, is an essential practice for contemporary researchers. Some publishers are challenging it as a lawful activity and the topic is being discussed during European copyright law reform process.

In order to better understand the underlying debate and contribute to the policy discussion, this article first examines the legal status of data access and reuse and licensing policies. It then presents available options supporting the exercise of Text and Data Mining: publication under open licenses, open access legislations and a recognition of the legitimacy of the activity.

For that purpose, the paper analyses the scientific rational for sharing and its legal and technical challenges and opportunities. In particular, it surveys existing open access and open data legislations and discusses implementation in European and Latin America jurisdictions.

Framing Text and Data mining as an exception to copyright could be problematic as it de facto denies that this activity is part of a positive right to read and should not require additional permission nor licensing.

It is crucial in licenses and legislations to provide a correct definition of what is Open Access, and to address the question of pre-existing copyright agreements. Also, providing implementation means and technical support is key. Otherwise, legislations could remain declarations of good principles if repositories are acting as empty shells.


Resisting the Resistance: Resisting Copyright and Promoting Alternatives

Author : Giancarlo F. Frosio

This article discusses the resistance to the Digital Revolution and the emergence of a social movement “resisting the resistance.” Mass empowerment has political implications that may provoke reactionary counteractions.

Ultimately—as I have discussed elsewhere—resistance to the Digital Revolution can be seen as a response to Baudrillard’s call to a return to prodigality beyond the structural scarcity of the capitalistic market economy.

In Baudrillard’s terms, by increasingly commodifying knowledge and expanding copyright protection, we are taming limitless power with artificial scarcity to keep in place a dialectic of penury and unlimited need.

In this paper, I will focus on certain global movements that do resist copyright expansion, such as creative commons, the open access movement, the Pirate Party, the A2K movement and cultural environmentalism.

A nuanced discussion of these campaigns must account for the irrelevance of copyright in the public mind, the emergence of new economics of digital content distribution in the Internet, the idea of the death of copyright, and the demise of traditional gatekeepers. Scholarly and market alternatives to traditional copyright merit consideration here, as well.

I will conclude my review of this movement “resisting the resistance” to the Digital Revolution by sketching out a roadmap for copyright reform that builds upon its vision..


UK University policy approaches towards the copyright ownership of scholarly works and the future of open access

Author : Elizabeth Gadd


Considers how the open access policy environment has developed since the RoMEO (Rights Metadata for Open Archiving) Project’s call in 2003 for universities and academics to assert joint copyright ownership of scholarly works. Investigates whether UK universities are moving towards joint copyright ownership.


Analyses 81 UK university copyright policies are analysed to understand what proportion make a claim over i) IP ownership of all outputs; ii) the copyright in scholarly works; iii) re-using scholarly works in specific ways; iv) approaches to moral rights. Results are cross-tabulated by policy age and mission group.


Universities have not asserted their interest in scholarly works through joint ownership, leaving research funders and publishers to set open access policy. Finds an increased proportion of universities assert a generic claim to all IP (87%) relative to earlier studies.

74% of policies relinquished rights in scholarly works in favour of academic staff. 20% of policies share ownership of scholarly works through licensing. 28% of policies assert the right to reuse scholarly works in some way.

32% of policies seek to protect moral rights. Policies that ‘share’ ownership of scholarly works are more recent. The UK Scholarly Communication Licence (UK-SCL) should have an impact on this area.

The reliance on individual academics to enforce a copyright policy or not to opt out of the UK-SCL could be problematic. Concludes that open access may still be best served by joint ownership of scholarly works.


This the first large-scale analysis of UK university policy positions towards scholarly works. Discovers for the first time a move towards ‘shared’ ownership of scholarly works in copyright policies.



Academic Libraries and Copyright: Do Librarians Really Have the Required Knowledge?

Authors: Juan-Carlos Fernández-Molina, João Batista E. Moraes, José Augusto C. Guimarães

A solid professional performance on the part of academic librarians at present calls for adequate knowledge about copyright law, not only for the development of their own tasks without infringing the law, but also to guide and provide pertinent advice for library users (faculty and students).

This paper presents the results of an online survey of Brazilian academic librarians, the objective being to determine the level of knowledge about basic questions on copyright related to their professional activities.

The case of Brazil is especially relevant, as it is one of the few countries still not including library exceptions and limitations in its copyright law. Our results make manifest important gaps in knowledge about copyright, underlining the need for a training program to remedy the situation.

Moreover, because training is needed for current as well as future professionals, it should be implemented in both the professional and the educational sector.


Openness of Spanish scholarly journals as measured by access and rights

Authors : Remedios Melero, Mikael Laakso, Miguel Navas-Fernández

Metrics regarding Open Access (OA) availability for readers and the enablers of redistribution of content published in scholarly journals, i.e. content licenses, copyright ownership, and publisher-stipulated self-archiving permissions are still scarce.

This study implements the four core variables (reader rights, reuse rights, copyrights, author posting rights) of the recently published Open Access Spectrum (OAS) to measure the level of openness in all 1728 Spanish scholarly journals listed in the Spanish national DULCINEA database at the end of 2015.

In order to conduct the analysis additional data has been aggregated from other bibliographic databases and through manual data collection (such data includes the journal research area, type of publisher, type of access, self-archiving and reuse policy, and potential type of Creative Commons (CC) licence used).

79% of journals allowed self-archiving in some form, 13.5% did not specify any copyright terms and 37% used CC licenses. From the total journals (1728), 1285 (74.5%) received the maximum score of 20 in reader rights. For 72% of journals, authors retain or publishers grant broad rights which include author reuse and authorisation rights (for others to re-use).

The OAS-compliant results of this study enable comparative studies to be conducted on other large populations of journals.


Access, ethics, and piracy

Author : Stuart Lawson

Open access has been progressively making more scholarship openly available. But a majority of journal articles are still behind paywalls so some people have turned to piracy to access them.

While some regard this practice as criminal and unethical, for others ‘liberating’ research is a justified act of civil disobedience.

This article considers both the efficacy and ethics of piracy, placing ‘guerilla open access’ within a longer history of piracy and access to knowledge.

By doing so, we can see that since piracy is not only an inevitable part of the intellectual landscape but can potentially drive progressive developments in communication practices, open access emerges as a contender for moving beyond proprietary forms of commodifying scholarly knowledge.

URL : Access, ethics, and piracy

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Copyright and the Use of Images as Biodiversity Data

Authors : Willi Egloff, Donat Agosti, Puneet Kishor, David Patterson, Jeremy A. Miller

Taxonomy is the discipline responsible for charting the world’s organismic diversity, understanding ancestor/descendant relationships, and organizing all species according to a unified taxonomic classification system.

Taxonomists document the attributes (characters) of organisms, with emphasis on those can be used to distinguish species from each other. Character information is compiled in the scientific literature as text, tables, and images.

The information is presented according to conventions that vary among taxonomic domains; such conventions facilitate comparison among similar species, even when descriptions are published by different authors.

There is considerable uncertainty within the taxonomic community as to how to re-use images that were included in taxonomic publications, especially in regard to whether copyright applies.

This article deals with the principles and application of copyright law, database protection, and protection against unfair competition, as applied to images.

We conclude that copyright does not apply to most images in taxonomic literature because they are presented in a standardized way and lack the creativity that is required to qualify as ‘copyrightable works’.

There are exceptions, such as wildlife photographs, drawings and artwork produced in a distinctive individual form and intended for other than comparative purposes (such as visual art).

Further exceptions may apply to collections of images that qualify as a database in the sense of European database protection law. In a few European countries, there is legal protection for photographs that do not qualify as works in the usual sense of copyright.

It follows that most images found in taxonomic literature can be re-used for research or many other purposes without seeking permission, regardless of any copyright declaration. In observance of ethical and scholarly standards, re-users are expected to cite the author and original source of any image that they use.

URL : Copyright and the Use of Images as Biodiversity Data