France pushing for UK-like exception for TDM with possible library role

Paris skyline


Details emerged on Twitter yesterday afternoon about copyright developments taking place in France.




Further details emerged overnight. The current situation is ongoing, but it would appear that progress might be being made.


Will France get its text and data mining exception?


Quoting in part from the above blog post by


The French parliament is currently examining a significant law on « The Digital Republic ». It covers a wide array of topics: open data, open access, Freedom of panorama, data portability, digital platform regulation… Contrary to the initial plan of the French governement, several MPs have put forward another item to this list: a text and data mining exception. While approved by the French lower house, the final fate of the exception is still uncertain at this stage.

The current intellectual property regulation in Europe actually restrains an extraordinary scientific opportunity: being able to grasp the main features, ideas and entities of millions of texts. Both massive digitization of corpora and sophistication of mining and clustering tool allows to deploy “distant reading” on an unprecedent scale. The Text2genome project can therefore draw an immense state of the art from genomic literature; ContentMine ambitions to liberate 100 millions facts from academic publications. I’m both an advocate and a pratician of text and data mining. My main focus concerns 19th century generalist and scientific periodicals — which are fortunately in the public domain, but I would be very happy to extend beyond my scope the beginning of the XXth century.

The French exception is roughly similar than its British counterpart. They are both limited to scientific research ; they both aim to link the right to read and the right to mine, by giving a license to extract to researchers who have a lawful access to a resource. There is nevertheless an additional restriction regarding the preservation of the output. So far the British exception does not seem to set any temporal limitation to the keeping of the “local” databases”.

A first draft of the French exception actually envisioned to have the output fully deleted once the research was over. This would have proved quite unpractical. As every scientific work, text and data mining project are perfectible: the output is so large that it can be of use for many unexcepted outlooks. Fortunately, the current amendment come to a better term: the output would be kept by a “certified” organisations (the French National Library is very likely to be one of them), and could therefore be reused.


This post will be updated when further information is made available.




The above post by Pierre-Carl Langlais has been updated. In part:-


Yet, the fight was not unequal. An extraordinary procedure gave scientific communities the ability to speak up in favor of better terms for the open access law and in favor of the reintroduction of mining exception: apparently for the first time in France, a law was examined, evaluated and completed on an online platform. The “République Numérique” website hosted several thousand contributions from virtually everyone: lobbies, companies, public institutions, communities and simple citizens… Several of them argued in favor of a mining exceptions, and they were extremely well received.


Mining proposal of the Couperin Consortium on République Numérique

This open consultation has given a lot of additional momentum to innovative measures that would have been otherwise upheld by powerful lobbies, or simply not conceived in the first place. MPs seem to have been particularly sensitive to original perspectives. Full Freedom of Panorama (that includes commercial use) was actively supported by one fifth of the lower house (more than one hundred MPs actually signed at least one favorable amendement). While MPs were more open-minded, scientific communities proved bolder : a few days ago, the President of Universities Collective (CPU) and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) signed a strong committment toward an open access law and a mining exception.

Rigthholders lobbies are still far from powerless. They were able to have a significant innovation partly removed from the law: a positive recognition of “informationnal commons” (a wider notion that cover both the public domain of “works”, the public domain of “informations” and voluntary Free knowledge such as Wikipedia). Nevertheless, they have never been in such a weak position in the recent past.

All in all, the game remains fully open. The current state of the “open access” law reflect this tensed debate between coalitions of actors of gradually equal strength and influence: while scientific institutions, public libraries and open knowledge communities were able to append data to the focus of the law (something their german counterpart has not succeeded in) the publishers have, no less successfully, vetoed the inclusion of collected conference contributions. The suspense should still last till the end of the legislative procedure (probably no more than a month).






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

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