British Library document on copyright

From Ben White of the BL (who sought views from me and others to go into the document). There is a lot positive in this and I really hope the Government takes the recommendations seriously in revising the law. [BTW the format of the document itself is strange and rather difficult to read on screen – it looks more like a poster].

Please find attached the British Library’s latest paper on Copyright and Research.

We had an event (see podcast if you have the time at this Tuesday to discuss copyright and research – those on the panel included Lynne Brindley, CEO of the British Library, as well as IP and Higher Education Minister David Lammy, Torin Douglas BBC etc. Lots of great people in the audience too of course!

Please spread the word regarding the paper!

Sincerely yours

Ben White

Here is an excerpt:

In a supreme irony, the ease of access enabled by the digital age
actually leads to greater access restrictions:

1. Researchers increasingly find a black hole when researching
21st Century material– ironically the material of previous
centuries has become easier to access than the websites, word
documents and blogs of today because clearing rights to give
access to modern day material can be lengthy and expensive.

Currently Google blocks post 1868 material on their Google
Books site from users in the European Union because of the
longer duration of copyright in the EU. This means that
European researchers wanting to read material up to 1923
have to travel to the United States to view material that is
freely available there on the web but not in Europe. Much
of this material was of course produced by Europeans…

Some historical publishers have had to abandon post war
social history projects as the rights issues are too complex.

2. Researchers of the future find a black hole when researching
late 20th Century history as much of our digital history has
decayed and become digitally corrupted.

Parts of the British Library’s archive of celebrated photographer,
Fay Godwin, may no longer be accessible to researchers when
Microsoft and Adobe no longer support Windows XP/ Vista
and Photoshop (CS3) servers, as the servers are essential for
viewing some of her digital photographic collection. Restrictions
in copyright law mean that the British Library can do little
practically to prevent this.

3. Computer based research techniques become restricted by
copyright and contract law. Computer technology has already
significantly changed the way in which scientific research is
conducted. Scientists increasingly do not read books or journals,
but by writing computer programmes search, analyse and
extract data from written sources in a technique known as ‘data
mining’ or ‘text mining’. Science is propelled forward by access
and collaborative reuse of scientific information. It is important
that computer based research techniques are allowed for by
future copyright law, in the way that in the analogue world we
have protected research activity through ‘fair dealing’.

Medical researchers write their own computer programmes
to search across thousands of digitised articles in their libraries
to extract important medical data, such as the relationship
between a certain enzyme and the spread of cancer. Despite
this, the researcher is not able to share the results of their
findings with other scientists as this will contravene the terms
of their licence with the database provider, and the relationship
between the provider and the university.

It is heartening to see such a positive view being promoted at a national level. Perhaps this is something that individual libraries can help to support and propagate. Hopefully it can give encouragement to those who wish to challenge the unacceptable status quo.

This entry was posted in "virtual communities", Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to British Library document on copyright

  1. WM says:

    It’s a very good thing to see such an important institution addressing this issue. I do have to disagree with this, though: “Scientists increasingly do not read books or journals, but by writing computer programmes search, analyse and extract data from written sources in a technique known as ‘data mining’ or ‘text mining’.” While data mining is increasingly important, most scientists still do, and will continue to read books and journals. And hopefully, standards will be set requiring datasets to be published in such a way that this kind of text-scraping will no longer be necessary for newer data.

  2. Pingback: Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics, Cambridge - Needed: Accurate information on British Library policy on copyright and use of Interlibrary Loans « petermr’s blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *