University of Cambridge's model reply on Restrictions on content mining. Publishers refuse 50% of requests

Here’s the university of Cambridge’s reply to my request about barriers to  content-mining imposed by publishers. It’s exactly what I had asked for. (It’s a pity that several other Universities decided it was too much effort.) See earlier blog posts for background and the actual question here: I’ll annotate briefly, comment on each issue and summarise
1. [How many restrictive contracts]. All license agreements between publishers and libraries set out permitted uses of the data being
provided and restrictions on use. Most do not specifically mention text mining but include a phrase such
as ‘Users may not … abridge, modify, translate or create any derivative work based on the licensed
product(s)’. Of the publishers with which the University Library has signed licenses, 11 are known to
place restrictions on text mining or have licenses that could be interpreted as having restrictions.
PMR: very clear, especially final sentence. I suspect this is true of most universities.
2. [when was first contract with restrictions? ] The University Library has been signing license agreements in large numbers with publishers since
the mid-1990s; it would require substantial research to answer this question with any certainty in
relation to any specific restriction such as that relating to text or data mining. Accordingly the
information you have requested in this question is refused under section 12(1) of the Act. The
University has estimated that the time required to locate, retrieve and extract the information would
considerably surpass 18 hours of staff time charged at £25 per hour, and therefore that answering this
question exceeds the appropriate limit of £450 as set out in the Freedom of Information and Data
Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.
PMR: probably not a useful question to ask
3. [How often has University challenged a restrictive contract?]. Never, and hence no information is held to answer this question.
4. N/A.
5. [Has university raised this in a committee]. Minute 6 of the Minutes of the Journals Co-ordination Scheme Steering Committee meeting on 21
June 2012 states: “Mr Morgan raised the question of text/data mining rights and requested that this be
made explicit within the NESli2 standard model licence when deals are re-negotiated. Mrs Jarvis
commented that this matter had been raised previously via ERWIG with JISC Collections and will be
under discussion at further meetings.”
PMR: Excellent. Peter Morgan has done an excellent job of driving innovation in Cambridge.
6. [How many researchers have approached university to do content mining?] Four approaches (two individual researchers; one pair of researchers working on a single project;
one research group) have been made to the University Library to contact a publisher to request
data/text mining. Two of the four requests were rejected by the publishers.
PMR: Really valuable data. Publishers refuse requests. The STM association has said publishers are extremely willing to cooperate. This proves otherwise. Yes, it’s a small sample but enough.
7. In the two cases under question 6 above where the publisher did not object, one did not impose
conditions and advised on technical procedures to gain access to the dataset for text mining purposes.
The other agreed on condition that the University Library should update its license agreement and that
the researcher should register with the publisher for text mining and agree to its text mining conditions
via a ‘click-through’ agreement.
PMR: very valuable insight. This allows a followup up question as to who were the publishers, etc.
8. [Have researchers go unfavourable responses from publishers.] Never, and hence no information is held to answer this question.
9. The University Library has never advised a researcher that they should desist from mining but has
made them aware of publisher policies. Subscription access to a resource has never been removed
due to a breach of license terms relating to text mining.
10. [Policy on click-through licences].  No such policy exists, and hence no information is held to answer this question.
11. [Policy post Hargreaves legislation.] No such policy exists, and hence no information is held to answer this question.
12. [Will university refuse to sign restrictive contracts after Hargreaves?] The University Library, on behalf of the University, will continue to license electronic information
resources to support research and teaching, negotiating the best possible terms of use with publishers
and pressing to establish the right to carry out text and data mining within license agreements. It will do
this both as an individual organisation and in collaboration with consortia negotiators.
PMR: Overall this is very helpful and it’s a pity that others didn’t take this view. I have transmitted some of this to my MP and David Willetts. It’s through information of this sort we can support them to change policies.

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One Response to University of Cambridge's model reply on Restrictions on content mining. Publishers refuse 50% of requests

  1. Totgia says:

    In our University, we are not allowed to do the automated content mining. Each time we login, the maximum number of article we are allowed to download is 3 only.
    Thank you very much for your nice written-up blog post 🙂

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