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Open Science event for UCL staff and students

Chris JHolland6 June 2018

UCL is running a free, one day event to examine many aspects of open science. It is open only to UCL staff and students, so apologies to any non-UCL readers of this blog. The event is happening on Monday 25th June 2018 from 09:30 to 16:00 at the Senate House, Malet Street WC1E. It promises to be a fascinating event for anyone involved in research or simply interested in open science. “How to make your data open”, “open peer review” and “citizen science” will be among the topics discussed by high profile speakers from UCL and other organisations.

UCL staff and students can find out more and book a place here.

What is the connection with copyright? Considerations of the copyright status of research outputs and data sets are essential ingredients of the open science mix. Decisions on how to licence the reuse of copyright protected material in an open access environment are also an important aspect of implementing an open science strategy.

Open letter supporting a strong TDM exception in EU law

Chris JHolland28 September 2017

A new open letter from EARE (the European Alliance for Research Excellence) to the MEPs sitting on the EU Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI Committee) puts the case for a really effective and workable copyright exception for Text and Data Mining (TDM) in Europe. UCL is one of some 20 organisations which have signed the letter, representing universities, research organisations, libraries and businesses in Europe.  The letter makes a strong case for an exception which permits anyone with lawful access to a body of copyright protected material to use the innovative techniques of TDM to carry out computer-based analyisis of that material without the risk of infringing copyright. The JURI Committeee will be considering amendments to the draft Copyright Directive in the near future, so this initiative is very timely.

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TDM and copyright advocacy

Chris JHolland13 June 2017

The draft EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market is currently being scrutinised by a series of European Parliamentary committees and is open to proposed amendments which could either maximise the usefulness to the HE and research sector of the proposed copyright exceptions or alternatively render them quite unhelpful. This is the subject of a great deal of advocacy by groups supporting a more user-friendly copyright framework and those who are opposed to more generous exceptions.

In this context UCL Library Services has recently lent its support to the European Alliance for Research Excellence (EARE) which provides a platform for those advocating a more generous EU wide exception for Text and Data Mining (TDM).

The original wording of the draft Directive (Article 3) provided an exception only for the benefit of a narrowly defined class of “research organisations” run on a non-profit basis. That would create uncertainty about the position of collaborative projects of all kinds between universities and commercial organisations, including technology based start-ups.

The position of EARE is that since one has to have “legal access” to the information in order to carry out TDM under the exception then the exception should be available to anyone who has legal access not just a narrow class of research organisations.  This is an significant issue for the future of research in Europe given the importance of TDM in all areas of research.

Text and Data Mining potential unleashed

Chris JHolland28 November 2014

One of the significant new exceptions introduced this year enables Text and Data Mining (TDM) to be carried out on bodies of copyright material as long as it is for a “non commercial purpose” (and the sources should be acknowledged where possible.)

TDM includes a range of advanced techniques for analysing vast quantities of data in order to draw out new facts or statistical trends, or gather evidence of previously unexplored relationships (for example between chemical substances and medical conditions). The potential uses of TDM are very wide ranging and may occur in all disciplines.

The new exception makes the application of TDM to copyright works possible by removing the copying of material (which is an essential part of the TDM process) from the realms of infringing activity.

A Jisc report on the value and benefits of text mining from 2012 mentions that at that time TDM activities in higher education were mainly focussed on Open Access materials because the latter were more readily available. Since the new TDM exception was introduced in June 2014, the content of a vast number of e-journals to which universities such as UCL subscribe should also be available for TDM. This results from the fact that under the legislation, the terms of our contracts with the publishers of those journals cannot over-ride the TDM Exception:

“To the extent that a term of a contract purports to prevent or restrict the making of a copy which, by virtue of this section, would not infringe copyright, that term is unenforceable”, Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Section 29A(5).

This means that any terms in suppliers’ contracts which sought to restrict advanced computer analysis of their repertoire will no longer have any weight, at least where non commercial research is concerned.