The EU is alive with the sound of copyright reform!

2 smallHelen Frew, Advocacy Officer at LIBER, writes about the process of EU copyright reform with a focus on the issue of text and data mining.

It is an exciting time at European level if you are involved in copyright reform and access to data. Launched by the European Commission in September 2016, a proposal on copyright in the Digital Single Market is currently making its way through the European Parliament. This involves a fairly complex procedure where the original text is examined, debated  and amended by parliamentarians  in a number of selected committees. One MEP (in this case Therese Comodini-Cachia) is given the mammoth task of steering the parliament Report to a final plenary vote scheduled to take place in July of this year.

The copyright reform dossier covers a number of ‘hot topics’ including - of obvious relevance to open access - a copyright exception for text and data mining (TDM). TDM as we know, is important because using machine technology to sift through big data to discover hitherto unidentified information, could help us to further our understanding of the arts, business, science and beyond.

The EU copyright proposal aims to improve uptake of this innovative technology. It would allow for content mining carried out by “research organisations in order to carry out text and data mining of works or other subject matter to which they have lawful access for the purposes of scientific research”. These few sentences have resulted in heated debate. Many feel that the scope is far too limited, is unclear (does in allow for meaningful public private partnerships?) and a number of key innovators, such as start-ups and citizen scientists seem to be excluded. There are even doubts as to whether research libraries would fall into the category of “research organisations” despite their pivotal role in facilitating TDM in this sector. Clearly improvements will be sought on this and scores of other clauses when amending original text.

These next few months mark that very important window in which individuals and organisations can contact their MEPs with their views and concerns about the proposal. When the deadline for amendments is up (at the end March) the lead MEP and key representatives from the political groups are tasked with agreeing on a final compromise. They can only work with the submitted suggestions. Expect a lot of noise on the issue from all sides of the debate but if there’s something within the text that matters to you – or maybe something missing - now is the time to alert your stakeholder representative or contact your MEP.

Useful Links:
Commission proposal on copyright in the Digital Single Market

European Parliament Briefing paper

The list of MEPs (can be sorted by country)
For more updates on text and data mining and policy from H2020 Project FutureTDM visit
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