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EU planning to introduce new text and data mining copyright exception for research bodies

Public interest research bodies could win new rights to scour text and data produced by others using sophisticated software, according to leaked proposals under consideration by EU policy makers.

Statewatch has published a European Commission staff working document (182-page / 4.15MB PDF) which looks into the potential impact of potential changes to EU copyright laws.

According to the document, the Commission wants to address existing "legal uncertainty" facing researchers over their rights to carry out text and data mining on "content they have lawful access to".

The Commission said its "preferred option" is to introduce a mandatory text and data mining exception to copyright in new EU legislation. The exception would assist "public interest research organisations" and set out their rights to engage in text and data mining in both non-commercial and commercial scientific research projects.

"This option would create a high level of legal certainty and reduce transaction costs for researchers with a limited impact on right holders' licensing market and limited compliance costs," the Commission document said. "The preferred option is also coherent with the EU open access policy and would achieve a good balance between copyright as a property right and the freedom of art and science."

If the plans are taken forward and implemented as is indicated, EU rules on text and data mining would differ from the UK's.

In 2014 a new text and data mining exception was introduced into UK copyright laws. That exception allows context to be copied from online journals and other texts for the purposes of non-commercial research providing copiers have lawful access to that content and they, generally, make "a sufficient acknowledgement" of the original work.

The UK exception does not apply to text and data mining activities undertaken for commercial research purposes.

According to the leaked EU document, further new mandatory exceptions to copyright could be introduced in the context of digital and online education and to allow cultural heritage institutions to preserve copyrighted works.

The Commission also intends to change EU broadcasting laws to apply the so-called 'country of origin' principle to the licensing of content broadcasters place online that is "ancillary to their initial broadcast".

The country of origin (COO) principle applies in the context of traditional broadcasting by considering, through EU legislation, that broadcasters only communicate works of copyright to the public from one EU country, even where the broadcasts can be viewed elsewhere.

The EU's preferred approach "facilitates cross-border transmission of broadcasters' TV and radio programmes online, while preserving a balanced landscape taking into account the interests of right holders, by establishing the licensing regime based on the COO, while granting consumers a clear benefit of enhanced access to broadcasters' TV and radio programmes in the internal market", the leaked document said.

The new copyright rules the Commission is considering introducing include proposals to help news publishers boost licensing revenues for the re-use of their content.

The Commission is looking to introduce a new related right covering online uses of news publications and give EU countries the option of providing publishers with the right to "claim compensation for uses under an exception".

The move would "strengthen publishers' bargaining position and ultimately have a positive impact in their ability to license their content and enforce the rights on their news publications", according to the leaked document.

The Commission said that while "transactional costs" could rise for online service providers, it is persuaded by the new measure because "the final decision about the reuse of this content and the corresponding conditions (e.g. either free or against the payment of a fee or a monetisation agreement) would be left to the freedom of contract of the parties".

"Both options enable the achievement of the policy objective in a proportionate manner, without going beyond what is necessary to do so," the Commission said.

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