Press release

Wellcome Trust response to the BIS Committee’s Review of the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property

The Wellcome Trust is pleased that the BIS Committee recognises the potential benefits of content mining but is concerned that the report focuses exclusively on a publisher-licensing model as the only viable solution to this problem. We argue strongly that this model will not be effective in facilitating content mining and call for a copyright exemption for non-commercial research.

In the Trust's response to the IPO Consultation on Hargreaves, we highlighted the example of JISC Collections, which sought to introduce a clause in its Model Licence to permit users in institutions to undertake text and data mining, and reported that just six publishers (35 per cent) accepted the clause.

The Trust believes that the only effective way to facilitate content mining in the digital era is to provide a copyright exception, as recommended by Hargreaves. Such an exception would not provide a 'free-for-all' because the only content that researchers would be able to mine is content to which they already have lawful access, typically because they (or their institution) have a licence to access this material.

The Committee report also stresses that several technical and security issues need to be overcome before content mining can be permitted. However, such an argument is difficult to equate with the experiences of existing open access publishers - such as BioMed Central - who already provide access to their entire published outputs, via an FTP site, without any such problems.

Robert Kiley, Head of Digital Services at the Wellcome Library, said: "Content mining tools hold enormous potential, both to increase the efficiency of research and to enhance the economic and societal benefits resulting from public and charitable research funding. Content mining can enable researchers to identify new and unsuspected associations, stimulating discovery and opening up novel avenues of research and innovation.

"The best way to realise these benefits is to provide a copyright exception for content mining. We are disappointed that the BIS Committee has not recognised this."