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Easing the Way for Data Mining

The European Commission is considering altering a copyright law so that researchers can more easily mine research papers, Nature News reports.

Such text- and data-mining — which researchers say may enable them to uncover otherwise hidden patterns — has been limited because of copyright laws. In the European Union, researchers wanting to comb through papers need the permission of the copyright holder, which Nature News says means going through a tedious process of asking publishers for their OK and sometimes paying fees and dealing with restrictions.

A new proposal, though, would exempt text- and data-mining research performed in the public interest, such as by a university or research institute, from the law. However, Nature News notes the activity would be limited to content to which the researchers already have legal access.

"We must remove barriers that prevent scientists from digging deeper into the existing knowledgebase. This proposed copyright exception will give researchers the freedom to pursue their work without fear of legal repercussions," says Carlos Moedas, head of research at the European Commission, in a statement.

The proposal still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the council that represents EU member-states.

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