The Hague Declaration on Knowledge Discovery in the Digital Age


The Hague Declaration aims to foster agreement about how to best enable access to facts, data and ideas for knowledge discovery in the Digital Age. By removing barriers to accessing and analysing the wealth of data produced by society, we can find answers to great challenges such as climate change, depleting natural resources and globalisation.

“This declaration will be a key pillar in the foundation of Open Science, in strong and innovative economies and in a healthy society.” -Susan Reilly, LIBER Europe

The Hague Declaration from Hague Declaration on Vimeo.

Featured in this video are are very own Peter Murray-Rust and one of our Advisory Board members Puneet Kishor.

After several months of discussion, consultation, drafting and re-drafting, The Hague Declaration on Knowledge Discovery in the Digital Age has just been released.

This is a significant development on a number of levels. Of particular interest to us:-

New technologies are revolutionising the way humans can learn about the world and about themselves. These technologies are not only a means of dealing with Big Data1, they are also a key to knowledge discovery in the digital age; and their power is predicated on the increasing availability of data itself. Factors such as increasing computing power, the growth of the web, and governmental commitment to open access2 to publicly-funded research are serving to increase the availability of facts, data and ideas.

However, current legislative frameworks in different legal jurisdictions may not be cast in a way which supports the introduction of new approaches to undertaking research, in particular content mining. Content mining is the process of deriving information from machine-readable material. It works by copying large quantities of material, extracting the data, and recombining it to identify patterns and trends.

At the same time, intellectual property laws from a time well before the advent of the web limit the power of digital content analysis techniques such as text and data mining (for text and data) or content mining (for computer analysis of content in all formats)3. These factors are also creating inequalities in access to knowledge discovery in the digital age. The legislation in question might be copyright law, law governing patents or database laws – all of which may restrict the ability of the user to perform detailed content analysis.

Researchers should have the freedom to analyse and pursue intellectual curiosity without fear of monitoring or repercussions. These freedoms must not be eroded in the digital environment. Likewise, ethics around the use of data and content mining continue to evolve in response to changing technology.

Computer analysis of content in all formats, that is content mining, enables access to undiscovered public knowledge and provides important insights across every aspect of our economic, social and cultural life. Content mining will also have a profound impact for understanding society and societal movements (for example, predicting political uprisings, analysing demographical changes). Use of such techniques has the potential to revolutionise the way research is performed – both academic and commercial.


The potential benefits of content mining are vast and include:

  • Addressing grand challenges such as climate change and global epidemics
  • Improving population health, wealth and development
  • Creating new jobs and employment
  • Exponentially increasing the speed and progress of science through new insights and greater efficiency of research
  • Increasing transparency of governments and their actions
  • Fostering innovation and collaboration and boosting the impact of open science
  • Creating tools for education and research
  • Providing new and richer cultural insights
  • Speeding economic and social development in all parts of the globe

Researchers, SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) and big technological companies have been content mining for at least 10 years, but the potential for extracting significant benefits from this work has been limited due to ongoing legal uncertainties and restrictions. However, in this age of opportunity, it is important that all members of society can benefit equally from advances in the availability of digital technology and content. This requires the creation of new principles around access to facts, data and ideas.

[1]See the G8 Open Data Charter and the RDA Data Harvest Report .
[2]See the Berlin Declaration and the Budapest Open Access Initiative 10 years on.
[3]Where the term text and data mining / TDM is used in the Declaration, it is used to mean the mining of all forms of data irrespective of whether in text, images, sound recordings or film .

You can read and also sign the full Declaration here.

And in a related development today, the EU has just announced it is proposing to introduce an EU-wide exception to copyright for text and data mining in the first half of next year. SOURCE

The Commission will make legislative proposals before the end of 2015 to reduce the differences between national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works by users across the EU, including through further harmonisation measures. The proposals will include: (i) portability of legally acquired content, (ii) ensuring cross-border access to legally purchased online services while respecting the value of rights in the audiovisual sector, (iii) greater legal certainty for the cross-border use of content for specific purposes (e.g. research, education, text and data mining, etc.) through harmonised exceptions,(iv) clarifying the rules on the activities of intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected content and, in 2016, (v) modernising enforcement of intellectual property rights, focusing on commercial-scale infringements (the ‘follow the money’ approach) as well as its cross-border applicability.

specificaly, “(iii) greater legal certainty for the cross-border use of content for specific purposes (e.g. research, education, text and data mining, etc.) through harmonised exceptions,”


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Scotland's (main, but not only) #OpenScience #OpenAccess #OpenData #OpenSource #OpenKnowledge & #PatientAdvocate Loves blogging Glasgow, Scotland.

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