If the working paper on the exploitation of public-sector information is converted into a European Union directive, it spells the end of debate about copyright in higher education research ("Worry at access to fruits of research", THES , March 1). This is because there is, in effect, no copyright, but an open door.
There are many arguments against the proposal: it will reduce university research and development; companies will be reluctant to invest in HE-based research; how is commercial confidentiality defined?
It poses a potential legal nightmare. By effectively abolishing copyright, patenting is encouraged. The implications of this needs further exploration as does the complex issue of prior publication. A prior publication invalidates a patent application. If a third party demands, under the proposed law, to inspect documents (results, say) from a higher education project that might result in a patent later down the line, that is arguably prior publication, so no patent can then result.
The authors of the working paper have not thought their ideas through fully.