Research sector, SMEs, civil society groups and open access publishers withdraw from Licences for Europe dialogue on text and data mining

COMMUNIA, along with several other representatives from the research sector, has withdrawn from the Licences for Europe dialogue on text and data mining due to concerns about the scope, composition and transparency of the process.

A letter of withdrawal has been sent to the Commissioners involved in Licenses for Europe explaining the reason that these stakeholders can no longer participate in the dialogue and the wish to instigate a broader dialogue around creating the conditions to realise the full potential of text and data mining for innovation in Europe:

We welcomed the orientation debate by the Commission in December 2012 and the subsequent commitment to adapt the copyright framework to the digital age. We believe that any meaningful engagement on the legal framework within which data driven innovation exists must, as a point of centrality, addressthe issue of limitations and exceptions. Having placed licensing as the central pillar of the discussion, the Licences for Europe Working Group has not made this focused evaluation possible.

Instead, the dialogue on limitations and exceptions is only taking place through the refracted lens of licensing. This incorrectly presupposes that additional relicensing of already licensed content(i.e. double licensing) – and by implication also licensing of the open internet – is the solution to the rapid adoption of TDM technology.

This approach also undermines the considerable work that has been done in Europe to increase the amount of Open Access content available and encourage its exploitation. We are concerned, therefore, that our participation in a discussion that focuses primarily on proprietary licenses could be used to imply that our sectors accept the notion of double licensing of as a solution. It is not. We firmly believe that the right to read is the rightto mine.

Furthermore, we would point to the urgent need to be competitive with the United States and the high‐tech economies in Japan and South Korea, where legal barriers to TDM are far lower precisely because of the existence of copyright limitations and exceptions there.


Licences for Europe was announced in the Communication on Content in the Digital Single Market (18 December 2012) and is a joint initiative led by Commissioners Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services), Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) to ‘deliver rapid progress in bringing content online through practical industry-led solutions’. Licences for Europe aims to engage stakeholders in four areas:

  1. Cross-border access and the portability of services;
  2. User-generated content and licensing;
  3. Audiovisual sector and cultural heritage;
  4. Text and Data Mining (TDM).

COMMUNIA participated in the first three sessions of the the working group on text and data mining. We and the other organisations who have decided to withdraw from the proces remain committed to working with the Commission on the removal of legal and other barriers to TDM. However, we believe that any meaningful engagement on the legal framework within which data-driven innovation exists must address the issue of limitations and exceptions and as a consequence a review of the 2001 EU copyright directive which is in urgent need of modernisation.

Our withdrawal follows much communication with the Commission on the issue, including a letter of concern sent on the 26th of February and signed by over 60 organisations including COMMUNIA. The Commission response to this letter is available on the LIBER website. More information about the issues surrounding text and data mining in the context of the Licenses for Europe stakeholder dialogue can be found in this background document.

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