The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, OASPA, seeks to support publishers in pursuing their open access publishing programs, while contributing to best practices related to open access more generally, including open data, and other areas of open scholarship. We encourage our members to adopt and support initiatives that expand access and reuse, and support open scholarship, whenever possible.
As an extension of these aims, OASPA signed The Hague Declaration earlier this year, expressing support for efforts that facilitate content mining. We therefore endorse the stance that the right to read is the right to mine. Content mining is an important downstream research activity that holds the potential to address critical problems facing societies today.
The proposed legislation by the European Commission lays forth a legal framework that addresses some of the aims of The Hague Declaration, including a copyright exemption for content mining for non-commercial research purposes. OASPA fully supports the intentions of this proposed legislation.
Our organisation appreciates the Commission’s effort to clarify the concerns of copyright holders by stating that text and data mining (TDM) would be legal in so far as content mining is undertaken by those in public research institutions that already have legal access to the content (e.g. via subscriptions). As open access publishers, our licenses already enable any member of the public to have lawful access. As supporters of the Hague Declaration, we would also argue that the copyright exception should be extended to include text and data mining for commercial as well as non-commercial research purposes. Even so, we regard the Commission’s proposed legislation as a positive step in that it allows non-commercial researchers to exploit one of the great opportunities afforded by the digital environment in which text and data now exist.
At the same time, we recognise concerns that legal access is poorly defined within the current proposed legislation, in the context of scholarly publishing where a variety of use scenarios have emerged. We would encourage the Commission to better define “legal access” for the sake of clarity and confidence among users.
As text and data mining expands, OASPA encourages the Commission to support the adoption of best practices and behaviours that support the spirit of sharing and recognition within the scholarly community. As The Hague Declaration states, there will be a need for the emergence of ethics around the use of content mining techniques that will need to continue to evolve in response to changing technology.
For example, it would be a reasonable best practice for those engaging in TDM to inform publishers and other holders of content that such content mining is planned. Among other things, this would allow publishers to better interpret user activity on their platforms and to inform authors about such use as a service to them. Another important area for consideration is practices related to providing recognition of content sources that have been mined. While legislation provides a necessary framework for TDM, norms and behaviours must be developed that are in line with the spirit of scholarly ethics.
OASPA, December 2016