E sccr/39/6 original: English date: October 15, 2019 Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights Thirty-Ninth Session Geneva, October 21 to 25, 2019

Machine reading (automated processing)

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sccr 39 6
Machine reading (automated processing) of large volumes of text and data (i.e., scientific databases) become a fundamental tool for the advancement of research (and teaching). Yet, in principle, Text and Data Mining (TDM) of copyrighted content implies several acts of exploitation (namely, reproduction, transformation, communication to the public) that would require authorization by copyright owners. TDM is hardly exempted under current E&L for research purposes.
Text and data mining for research purposes is being successfully addressed in some countries under fair use doctrines (i.e., USA)48 or statutory E&L (i.e. UK).49 An EU-wide mandatory exception to allow text and data mining for research and teaching purposes is included in the recently adopted Directive on Copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (Directive 2019/790 of 17 April 2019), offering also the possibility for Member States to enact E&L for TDM for other purposes, as long as not expressly reserved by right holders. Beyond TDM exempted by E&L and fair use, most publishers are already licensing TDM uses as part of their subscription database licenses (see Direct Licensing section below).


Academics50 tend to be aware of uses generally permitted as quotations and private copying. Instead, they fail to have a clear understanding of the scope of permitted uses under E&L for teaching and research purposes. As a general rule, librarians are more knowledgeable on copyright matters, and academics often rely on them for that.
Academics refer to unclear language and insufficient scope of E&L for teaching and research purposes. For instance, universities refrain from publishing thesis and dissertations online out of fear that some of the images and works included in them may exceed the scope of use permitted under quotation and research E&L.51 Legal uncertainty is aggravated when an online activity occurs across different countries: a use clearly exempted under one national law may not be so exempted under the law of other countries where students or academics reside (see chapter 5).

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