Sufficient licence

July 13, 2017

In his letter “Working the seams” (15 June) arguing against robust European Union-wide text and data mining exceptions, Stephen Lotinga of the Publishers Association asserts that the likes of Google, multinational pharmaceutical companies and hedge funds should not “have a free ride”. Instead, they should be required to negotiate additional licences with publishers.

But why? The exception proposed would apply only to material to which researchers have “lawful access”. In the case of journal articles, Google and the like will have paid the publisher for access. What difference does it make to the publisher whether a paper is being downloaded to be read by a human or by a machine?

The Publishers Association ­lobbied hard against a limited text and data mining exception in the UK. It is hard to see this continued lobbying in Europe as anything more than an attempt to provide already well-rewarded publishers with an additional revenue stream based on papers authored and peer-reviewed for free by the research community. There is no justification for extra licences and payments. The EU is right to ensure that if one has legal access to material online, then one has the right to mine it.

David Prosser
Executive director
Research Libraries UK


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