Representatives of the research and academic community applauded amendments by the Rapporteur to the draft new European Union Copyright Directive in yet another hearing on the megaproject yesterday in Brussels. Especially welcomed was the Rapporteur’s proposal to extend the scope of an exemption for text and data mining. Representatives of publishers, on the other hand, said there is no evidence of the need for additional mandatory exemptions. The European Parliament Justice Committee (JURI), the lead committee for the Copyright Directive review, also got a first chance to briefly discuss the Rapporteur’s amendments to the original Commission proposal.
Extending the scope of the text and data mining exemption by granting it also to individual researchers and start-up businesses, for example, is very much in the interest of the welfare of Europe, said Maria Elisabeth Rehbinder, legal counsel for the Art University in Aalto, Finland.

The exemption is desperately needed as “the right to mine is the right to read,” she said. The text and data access exemption will allow access to raw text, graphical and table data in scholarly publications, allowing to mine it.

Undermining importance of copyright directives

Underlining the importance of the ongoing review of the Copyright Directive, Rehbinder today added that different from content and inventions, “there is no legal protection of information and knowledge.” The future Copyright Directive should moreover not focus on helping “publishers who have problems with digitisation,” she said.

Rehbinder said it is important that publishers not be able to ban users from mining the content they had paid for, which was what they currently enforce through “unfair contracts”.

It would even “go against copyright to prevent the use of data,” said Alain Strowel, professor at UCLouvain . “We should relax access and use of data.” An example of an issue to further amend is the definition of person, Rehbinder said.

Carlo Lavizzari, legal counsel, STM International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, rejected the calls for this, pointing to ongoing national initiatives. For research, there is no additional cost to mine the data, he said in contradiction to the researchers. Lavizzari warned the EU legislators to listen to those pushing for additional exceptions with the argument that information and data has to be accessible.