Information mining from Springer full-text: I ask for freedom

This is the last of the current series of requests to publishers for freedom to mine factual information. Note “freedom”, not “permission”. I don’t ask permission to speak in public, I take it as a freedom. I have now sent such requests to Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Royal Soc Chemistry, Amer. Chem. Soc. and Nature Publishing Group. [If anyone wishes to contact other publishers feel free to use the text of my letters and let me know].

I’ll publish updates, hopefully daily , with publisher responses. I’ve given every one a hard deadline because Hargreaves/IPO has a hard deadline.

Wim van der Stelt (Executive Vice President Corporate Strategy) is the only person whose email address I know in Springer so I hope he can find the right place for a rapid answer.

[We corresponded earlier. If you are not the correct person in Springer to answer the question below please can you forward it to the person who is, let me know their name/email and ask them to reply substantively to me.]

We are making representations in response to the Hargreaves report and in particular about the freedom to use machines to extract and publish factual information from scientific publications without legal and technical barriers.

We are now in the position where we can extract factual chemical information from the full text of articles with high precision and recall (accuracy is > 99.5% and recall > 95%) and with great speed and cost-effectiveness. The University of Cambridge is a subscriber to Springer journals and we would like to begin to extract information on a systematic basis for Open scientific research. This applies to all Springer journals, not just BMC and Springer Open. We don’t need technical help or permission from the Springer . We have copied Cambridge University Library staff.

This mail is to ask your assurance that we can do this without (a) legal/contractual barriers from Springer and (b) that we shall not be cut off by Springer robots. We wish to start immediately to show Hargreaves the benefit of information mining – they have a deadline for 2012-03-21 so we would like your agreement by 2012-03-15. All we require is:

YES: you may mine and publish factual information from Springer journals without additional payment and without restriction from legal and technical barriers.

I hope you can trust me to act responsibly on not violating copyright and being considerate to your robots. I have set out more details and a non-exhaustive illustration of facts in /pmr/2012/03/04/information-mining-and-hargreaves-i-set-out-the-absolute-rights-for-readers-non-negotiable .

Unfortunately any other reply than YES by 2012-03-15 will be regarded as unacceptable for the purposes of Hargreaves.

You will note that we are also approaching other major publishers of science. Elsevier has already publicly said we can mine their content for research and we’ll be publishing the facts under an Open licence.

Best wishes,


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One Response to Information mining from Springer full-text: I ask for freedom

  1. Interesting subject – “freedom”/”permission”.
    I created a website about a year ago based on an ISO standard for engineering data (ISO 15926). I “mined” the data which was freely available on the web, in file format. The standard is a collaborative effort between different organisations, not owned by a corporation. I didn’t see any reason why permission would be required for freely available information in the form of an ISO “standard”.
    However, I was recently asked what authority I was given to publish the information. That’s left me confused. Do I need authorisation?

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