Hague Declaration calls for IP reform to support access to knowledge in the digital age

Today COMMUNIA joins over 50 organizations in releasing the Hague Declaration on Knowledge Discovery in the Digital Age. The declaration is a collaboratively-created set of principles that outlines core legal and technical freedoms that are necessary for researchers. The principles would allow them to be able to take advantage of new technologies and practices in the pursuit of scholarly research, including activities such as text and data mining. The drafting of the declaration was led by LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries. It was developed through contributions from dozens of organizations and individuals. COMMUNIA is an original signatory to the declaration.

One of the key principles recognized in the declaration is that intellectual property law does not regulate the flow of facts, data, and ideas–and that licenses and contract terms should not regulate or restrict how an individual may analyze or use data. To realize the massive, positive potential for data and content analysis to help solve major scientific, medical, and environmental challenges, it’s important that intellectual property laws–and private contracts–do not restrict practices such as text and data mining.

The Hague Declaration also lays out a roadmap for action in support of these principles. The roadmap suggests the development of policies that provide legal clarity that content mining is not an infringement of copyright or related rights. It’s important for advocates to champion this notion, especially as there have been increasing suggestions from rights holders who are attempting to develop new legal arrangements and licenses that require users to ask permission to engage in practices such as text and data mining.

Our response to the EU copyright consultation suggests that the practice of text and data mining should be considered outside the purview of copyright altogether: “if text and data mining would be authorized by a copyright exception, it would constitute a de facto recognition that text and data mining are not legitimate usages. We believe that mining texts and data for facts is an activity that is not and should not be protected by copyright and therefore introducing a legislative solution that takes the form of an exception should be avoided.” Similarly, there have been several actions advocating that “The right to read should be the right to mine.”

In addition to supporting the notion that the right to read is the right to mine–free from additional copyright-like rights, license, or contractual arrangements–the declaration also suggests that if funding bodies are considering adopting open licensing mandates as a component of receiving grant funds, they should aim to adopt policies that champion a liberal licensing approach. Specifically the declaration states that research articles created with grant funds should be published in the global commons under a liberal license such as CC BY, and that research data should be shared in the worldwide public domain via the CC0 Public Domain Dedication.

The Hague Declaration is an important set of principles and recommended actions that can aid the speed and effectiveness of scholarly research and knowledge discovery today. You can read the LIBER press release here. To show your support, you can sign the declaration.

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