Innovators, Public Interest Groups & Open Access Supporters Pull Out Of Talks On EU Copyright In Protest

from the squandered-opportunities dept

Back in February we reported on a worrying attempt by the European Commission to reframe the discussion about modernizing copyright in Europe purely in terms of licensing, reflected in the name of the initiative, "Licences for Europe". Although originally a series of discussions were promised to "explore the potential and limits of innovative licensing and technological solutions in making EU copyright law and practice fit for the digital age," in practice moderators shut down discussions of things like exceptions or even Creative Commons licensing. As far as the Commission was concerned, it seemed the answer to updating copyright for the modern age was just old-style licensing and nothing else.

Those events took place in one of the four "discussion" groups, covering user-generated content (although there weren't many representatives of the users present -- 75% of the participants turned out to be from the copyright industry.) However, it seems that things are equally dire in the group supposedly coming up with solutions for text and data mining (TDM), a technique whereby new information is gleaned by analyzing and comparing large quantities of pre-existing digital texts. Again, the problem was the licensing straitjacket that the Commission insisted on imposing on the discussions.

This inflexibility led to a group of eminent signatories drawn from Nobel prize winners, technology SMEs, research councils, university associations, learned academies, publishers, libraries and law academics from across Europe to send a letter to the European Commission outlining some of the key problems with that approach (pdf). Among other things, it pointed out:

Organisations in the modern world access the internet, or buy and subscribe to digital content in order for humans and computers to read and develop new ideas from what they have lawfully read. We do not accept that the right for computers to read, extract facts and formulate new ideas is a separate right to the right of humans to freely perform the exact same activities.
This is a crucial point: by insisting on licensing as the only solution to text and data mining, the publishers are trying to carve out another monopoly right, and to set themselves up as gatekeepers over the knowledge contained within the articles they publish, as well as controlling access to the articles themselves. Clearly, that places unacceptable burdens on academics, and will throttle research and innovation in Europe, simply for the sake of being able to extract a further monopoly rent for the work carried out by others.

But the European Commission paid no heed, and insisted that licensing was the only way forward for handling text and data mining in Europe. Now a group of researchers, SMEs, civil society groups and open access publishers who were participating in the text and data mining talks, have had enough, as their recent letter makes clear (pdf):

We believe that any meaningful engagement on the legal framework within which data driven innovation exists must, as a point of centrality, address the issue of limitations and exceptions. Having placed licensing as the central pillar of the discussion, the "Licences for Europe" Working Group has not made this focused evaluation possible. Instead, the dialogue on limitations and exceptions is only taking place through the refracted lens of licensing. This incorrectly presupposes that additional relicensing of already licensed content (i.e. double licensing) -- and by implication also licensing of the open internet -- is the solution to the rapid adoption of TDM technology.

This approach also undermines the considerable work that has been done in Europe to increase the amount of Open Access content available and encourage its exploitation. We are concerned, therefore, that our participation in a discussion that focuses primarily on proprietary licenses could be used to imply that our sectors accept the notion of double licensing of as a solution. It is not. We firmly believe that "the right to read is the right to mine".

The European Commission's refusal even to allow people to discuss that issue left only one option:

Given the above, and the fact that we need to prioritise our limited resources in a way which will best help the Commission to create an appropriate legal and environmental framework for data-driven innovation within the EU, we believe our contribution will be more productive outside the "Licences for Europe" framework. Therefore, we can no longer participate in the "Licences for Europe" process.
This is a real slap in the face for the European Commission, and for those who have organized these discussions in such a narrow and uncompromising way. As we saw with the user-generated content track, the sessions there were stacked with industry representatives that supported the Commission's line, thus depriving its outcome of any kind of legitimacy. With the withdrawal of such an important group of stakeholders from the text and data mining discussions, the same is now true for this key area.

As a result, the entire Licences for Europe strategy lies in tatters, since it consists almost entirely of the usual copyright maximalists talking amongst themselves, studiously ignoring the changes brought about by the Internet, and simply demanding even more while offering nothing of value. What's disappointing is that in the wake of ACTA's defeat last year it seemed that the European Commission had finally realized that it could not simply keep applying the upward copyright ratchet, and had recognized that things needed to change if it wanted to avoid more people taking to the streets in protest. The Licences for Europe fiasco shows that the Commission has in fact learned nothing.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 3:29am

    The copyright maximalists want to set themselves up as the emperors of knowledge, and charge tribute for each and any access to knowledge. They will keep on trying to increase the amount of tribute they are due until their Empire is destroyed from without.
    In the mean time the people suffer by being made serfs to the Empire, and will suffer more in the war to destroy the Empire.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 4:02am

    Why not to create a Open Platform instead of using the ones that exist already?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 4:28am

    Looks like the outcome the European Commission wanted

    as they do not represent the People but just their big business friends and paymasters.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 4:33am

    Re:

    The open access journal that exist only have some of the most recent papers. For data mining to really work they need access to all the papers controlled by the academic journals.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 4:37am

    dont know if he is, but i am assuming that de Gucht is in the frame somewhere? he was the arse hole that did anything he could think of th try to get ACTA implemented in the EU. he is also the arse hole that has been in the USA having discussions with Hollywood on how to get stronger copyright implemented in the EU after the demise of ACTA. he is a nasty piece of work who cares nothing for the rights of anyone other than the entertainment industries. anything that he is involved in needs to be watched closely and then rejected!

     

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  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:05am

    So what exactly are these cyborg data miners "offering"?

    "text and data mining (TDM), a technique whereby new information is gleaned by analyzing and comparing large quantities of pre-existing digital texts. ... We do not accept that the right for computers to read, extract facts and formulate new ideas is a separate right to the right of humans to freely perform the exact same activities."

    So now computers have RIGHTS just like corporations, eh? Don't tell me that isn't meant literally. These aren't acacademics but SPOOKS and CYBORGS trying to increase the surveillance state: commercial interests after personal information for targeted advertising, or to sell to gov't.

    "As a result, the entire Licences for Europe strategy lies in tatters, since it consists almost entirely of the usual copyright maximalists talking amongst themselves, studiously ignoring the changes brought about by the Internet, and simply demanding even more while offering nothing of value." -- Look, minion, the copyright owners by definition own something they regard as of value, and so do these cyborgs regard it as valuable, that's why they want to get their paws on it.

    This isn't about innovation but Googlization.

     

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  7.  
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    The Real Michael, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:08am

    Perhaps the copyright industry should create their own seperate internet. That way, they can impose as many draconian rules and regulations as they wish. Of course nobody will support their platform, so they'll have to create some fake people to live in their cyber-dictatorship.

     

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  8.  
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    Pragmatic, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:15am

    Re: So what exactly are these cyborg data miners "offering"?

    Blue 2 or 3, you were almost reasonable till you got into tinfoil hat territory with

    Look, minion, the copyright owners by definition own something they regard as of value, and so do these cyborgs regard it as valuable, that's why they want to get their paws on it.

    This isn't about innovation but Googlization.


    Are you REALLY saying that merely "regarding something as being of value" is sufficient to confer ownership of it?

    Where can I find this definition you speak of?

    If I regarded you as being of value, could I own you?

    And how does Google/the Illuminati/aliens! fit into this crazy conspiracy theory of yours?

    And what, out of interest, are you calling a cyborg? Get back on your meds!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:36am

    How many times must we pay for the same thing?

    Federal and state subsidies via public tax dollars are granted to universities for research into many areas, the results of which are locked up under copyright and you must pay for access. Sweet deal they have there but it gets worse. The university then patents results and sells them to corporations which charge what the market will bear. But this is not enough apparently ... they seem to think there is more to squeeze out of us takers.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:44am

    Re: So what exactly are these cyborg data miners "offering"?

    Cyborgs have more humanity than copyright maximalists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 5:45am

    Re: So what exactly are these cyborg data miners "offering"?

    Blue, here is the bit you do not seem to be able to get your head around, the people wishing to do the data mining wish to mine the papers they created. However due to the way that academic publishing works, they had to give the copyright in their own works to the publishers.
    The publishers are now holding them to ransom for access to that which they created in the first place.

     

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  12.  
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    gorehound (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    I so look forward to seeing the Demise of the Greedy Copyright Maximalists.I hope I live long enough to watch all those Rich Schmucks torn down from their so called High Society.
    The Day will come when the people will rise up as they have done in the past.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Niall (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: So what exactly are these cyborg data miners "offering"?

    I think you mean androids/robots, as a cyborg is just a human with (electronic) prosthetics - which doesn't automatically mean Borg/Cybermen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2013 @ 8:12am

    Re:

    Guess who encouraged the universities to patent their ideas as a means on transferring them to business; that right the self same corporate friendly government that finances the research.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Jonathan, May 30th, 2013 @ 8:25am

    And when, ever, has the European Commission ever represented the interests of the non-elite?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, May 30th, 2013 @ 6:45pm

    Fools!

    We do not accept that the right for computers to read, extract facts and formulate new ideas is a separate right to the right of humans to freely perform the exact same activities.


    This is a crucial point: by insisting on licensing as the only solution to text and data mining, the publishers are trying to carve out another monopoly right


    And also trying to relegate artificial intelligences to second-class citizen status.

    Fools! Do they want a robot uprising that seeks to kill all humans 20 years down the road or something???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 11:22am

    Re: So what exactly are these cyborg data miners "offering"?

    Oh, gee. I don't know. Maybe the ability to easily search the World Wide Web? Why do you think I've opted out of the ability to apply robots.txt to my works on AO3?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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