Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Make all research results CC-BY"

While I do not agree in details on the statement made by Klaus, I agree with his intentions, and happy to propagate the mantra, like others did before me:

The details I disagree with:
  • no need for shouting; we can all perfectly well read it in lower case
  • CC-BY is not required; any open data license will do

Now, I know some of you disagree, and I understand the costs for maintaining and curating a database. But, if all research results would be freely available, these costs can be shared by the community, and we could all stand on the shoulders of giants.


  1. And the discussion is even more nuanced by the situation that (at least in the U.S.) facts can't be copyrighted - only their expression.

    If I report the 1D proton NMR spectrum of Taxol in methanol and it appears in JOC's supplementary material, the actual shifts can't be copyrighted, only the text and visual representation of that text.

    Which raises the interesting question of how much embellishment is really needed to turn a fact into a copyrightable item.

    Regardless, the facts will always be free (as in speech). Whether Organization X gives me the right to discover the facts buried in their servers - that's another matter, and one that the Open Access movement has been a bit slow to pick up on.

  2. Under Dutch law, there is a difference between manual mining and machine mining. Facts are free; that's the same in the Netherlands. But, in the Netherlands you may copy the database content only if you do it manually, not of you have a machine/computer do it.

    There is some precedence here some years ago, where a law suite was filed at some company who made a copy of the Dutch telephone book, because of copying database structure/layout. However, since they had some Asian workers copy it manually, they were allowed to do it.

    Not sure if any law has changed around this, but I do not think so.

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