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[Fwd: U.S. National Research Council Releases Report on S&T Databases]

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  • Subject: [Fwd: U.S. National Research Council Releases Report on S&T Databases]
  • From: Howard Flack <Howard.Flack@cryst.unige.ch>
  • Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 16:47:57 GMT
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Howard Flack        http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/Howard.Flack.html
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Date: Wed, 01 Dec 1999 11:10:10 -0500 (EST)
From: Gail Hodge <Gailhodge@AOL.COM>
Subject: U.S. National Research Council Releases Report on S&T Databases
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U.S. National Research Council Releases Report on Protection of Scientific
and Technical Databases

On Oct. 14, the NRC Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics and
Applications released the report "A Question of Balance: Private Rights and
the Public Interest in Scientific and Technical Databases."
(http://bob.nap.edu/books/0309068258/html/)  The report is based on a
workshop held in January 1999.  A number of ICSTI organizations participated
in this effort.

The committee believes that no new protections for databases are needed.  In
fact, with the combination of licensing and technological deterrents, the
current protections are stronger than under copyright (and before Feist)
alone.  There is also concern about the negative impact such protection
have on the use of factual databases for scientific and research purposes.
However, the committee acknowledges that there may be legitimate concerns
related to some wholesale pirating.  In this case, the committee recommends
appropriate legislation in this regard that might be used as a model for an
international treaty.  [This is basically the misappropriation approach that
was taken by the U.S. House of Representatives' House Commerce Committee H.R.
1858, which is supported by the library community.]

The report makes a number of legislative recommendations:

1. Limit additional protection to "substantial unauthorized taking that
causes substantial competitive injury to the rights holder in the rights
holder's original market."

2. Limit the scope of the legislation to include only collections of facts
discrete information items.  The scope should not include collections of
items that are already covered under copyright.

3. Limit the term of protection - the proposed 15 years is probably too long

4. Require rights holders to indicate when the term of protection expires
the whole database, or if it is continuously or periodically updated, for
portions of the database.

5. Apply protection only to databases created after the legislation is

6. Include fair use exceptions.

7. Provide for a term of expiration of the law with the possibility of
renewal.  There should also be a requirement to gather information on the
impact of the legislation on all parties during this period.

8. Private sector databases derived from government databases should be
eligible for protection, but the original government databases should remain
in the public domain.

Recommendations for U.S. Government Policy

1. Every effort should be made to maintain availability of government funded
information at no more than the cost of dissemination.  Government
information should be appropriately marked.  Those organizations that create
derivatives of U.S. Government information should be required to mark their
products with an indication of the original government source.

2. Organizations/projects getting whole or substantial part of their funding
the U.S. federal government
should be required to retain their nonexclusive rights when submitting the
data for publication or inclusion in another database.

3. The U.S. Copyright Office should sponsor discussions between the private
producers and government and not-for-profit users concerning the licensing
and economic issues.

4. U.S. Federal agencies, in particular the science agencies, should sponsor
research into the changing and complex economics of S&T database production.

5. Agencies should continue to promote cross-border data flow.

6. The U.S. Trade representative should negotiate with the EU on the highly
restrictive EU Database Directive (particularly with regard to reciprocity).

Recommendation for the Not-for-Profit S&T Database Community

1.  Should continue to promote and adhere to the policy of full and open


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