Open Data: more on ALPSP and STM statement

The next few posts will contain a substantial amount of comment (hopefully from you, dear readers and commentators) on the June 2006 ALPSP/STM statement on data in scholarly publications. I’m kicking myself for missing it. I plead that I have many other things to do (chemical research, writing programs), and Open Data is not my top priority, so I wasn’t reading Peter Suber’s Open Access News blog on a daily basis. I have a better feedreader and am now. Here’s his June comment:

ALPSP and STM support OA data The ALPSP and STM have issued a joint statement in support of free online access to scientific data (June 2006). Excerpt:

Publishers recognise that in many disciplines data itself, in various forms, is now a key output of research.

[snip… you can read the full statement here]

this is fundamental in copyright law. In the EU, the use of ‘insubstantial’ parts of a database, provided it is not systematic and repeated, does not infringe the database maker’s rights.

PS: Comments. Three quick responses.

  1. First, I commend ALPSP and STM for the primary recommendation in this significant statement. Open access to data is important for all the reasons they cite.
  2. Their call for intellectual property protection for databases is a separable and regrettable part of their statement. The EU has such protection but the US does not. Any argument that such protection is needed to stimulate the production, collection, or dissemination of data is refuted by the vigor of science in the US.
  3. The ALPSP and STM both lobby against policies that would provide OA to research literature, like FRPAA and the draft RCUK policy. I acknowledge that there are many differences between OA to data and OA to peer-reviewed articles interpreting or analyzing data. But ALPSP and STM should acknowledge that there are many similarities, and that most of their arguments for OA data (enhancing research productivity, avoiding costly repetition of research, supporting the creative integration and reworking of research) also apply to OA literature.

PMR comments:
(1) Like PS I commend the ALPSP and STM for this. (It is very important that we do not see people and organisations as “good” and “bad” – this sometimes happens in web-based and other discussions. They have good and bad policies. So this is a very valuable advance.
(2) I support Peter’s position as well. I think the blanket claim for IPR through this method is both crude and generally undesirable. Anything that can be done to make it clear that data in publications lie without this directive is important. A journal is not, IMO, a database (though the ACS now explicitly claims that a journal is not longer a journal, but a database to which readers have access. There are other issues here, but I stick with the data). So I will help to promote the swell of challenge to database rights, but I’m not leading the charge.
(3) I am, of course, a strong supporter of Open Access, and the logical premise that OA implies Open Data. That is the area where I’m trying to lead a charge.
So, in principle, all members of ALPSP and STM should support this, shouldn’t they? Or has there been dissension. If not, we’ll assume it’s got universal support.
So what possible legitimacy do we have for journals that copyright supplemental info?
(There are many other questions – what about data in full text? what about spidering websites? It should be exciting to examine these. Let’s see if we can use the blogosphere to do some useful research into this.)
And – finally – why did no-one on the SPARC Open Data list flag this?
I missed this in June: I’ll reproduce Peter Sub

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2 Responses to Open Data: more on ALPSP and STM statement

  1. Bill says:

    I’ve had a go at thinking through some of these issues, and putting together an Open Data Addendum (largely copied from, and to be used in the same way as, the SPARC Author Addendum). I haven’t come up with anything good for automated data-mining, but as an interim solution and a way to get the conversation going I think the Open Data Addendum is a great idea. I’m sure my attempt is full of holes but perhaps it will catch the interest of someone who knows how to do such things properly.

  2. Bill says:

    Oops, messed up the link: this is the correct one.

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