The draft IMCO opinion is clear: the right to read is the right to mine

Gdynia, the Polish winter sea
Limiting TDM is counterproductive
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Last week the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) released a draft opinion on the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Rapporteur Stihler’s recommendations lay in stark contrast to both the Commission’s original flawed TDM exception, and CULT’s draft opinion published just a few weeks ago. While CULT Rapporteur Joulaud’s suggestions would further restrict the ability to engage in TDM in the European Union, Stihler’s opinion champions a broad exception for text and data mining that would apply to anyone for any purpose. Rapporteur Stihler proposes 3 amendments regarding TDM that are coherent with our position:

  • removal of the restriction that only research organisations may benefit from the exception,
  • removal of the limitation that the exception may only be used for the purposes of scientific research,
  • introduction of the rule that technical protections that prevent activities under the text and data mining exception will also be inapplicable under the law.

From IMCO’s draft opinion:

“the Rapporteur believes that limiting the proposed EU exception to a narrow definition of research organisations is counterproductive, and therefore introduces a simple rule, which does not discriminate between users or purposes and ensures a strictly limited and transparent usage of technological protection measures where appropriate.”

In amendments to the proposed Directive, Rapporteur Stihler removes the restriction that only research organisations may benefit from the exception. Instead, the exception would cover “any individual or entity, public or private, with lawful access to mine content”. While we appreciate the change of the exception to apply to anyone, the text could be strengthened even further with the removal of “mine” so that it’s clear to users that they may engage in TDM so long as they have legal access to the content. In addition, she lifts the limitation that the exception may only be used for the purposes of scientific research. We’ve advocated for exactly this type of approach, in order to enable and improve scientific discovery and innovation opportunities in Europe.

The Commission’s proposal held that any contractual provision that impedes the exercise of the exception would be unenforceable. IMCO’s draft opinion would strengthen the application of the exception. Stihler’s opinion states that technical protections that prevent activities under the text and data mining exception will also be inapplicable under the law.

The draft IMCO opinion attempts to reshape the exception so it can be maximally beneficial to any user in the EU hoping to conduct text and data mining. By lowering the barriers to entry, the EU legislator can promote not only scientific discovery, but also business innovation, journalism, and a variety of interesting and novel activities made possible through a broad TDM exception.

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