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[Fwd: Copyright and databases]

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Howard Flack                        mailto:Howard.Flack@cryst.unige.ch

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Date: Tue, 06 May 2003 08:28:02 +0200
From: Armel Le Bail <alb@cristal.org>
Subject: Re: Copyright and databases
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Dear AFC Members,

There seems to be some misinterpretation about the
Crystallography Open Database (COD).

The COD is surfing on the "Open Access for Knowledge" wave
supported by many people in position of responsibility (see PUBMED
for instance or the Public Library of Science initiative, etc), including
the COD international advisory board members. This "Open" current
suggests that results of research granted by public funds should be
made free-access public good.

After 2 months of existence, the COD proposes ~ 8000 entries
(only 2% of the whole stuff, so that, at this speed, the COD will
not be a serious competitor to CSD, ICSD and CRYSTMET before
10 years... unless Crystallographers see their own interest and
accelerate their data deposition to the COD), received more
than 800 different visitors who downloaded more than 700 CIFs.

The COD relies on Crystallographers themselves for placing
their own data (as CIFs) in the public domain. Clearly, there are
several possibilities :
- Crystallographers may send the CIFs corresponding to their own
latest jobs, as produced by most structure determination and refinement
software, and which they have stored inside of their computer hard disk
since many years now.
- If the digitalized files do not exist or were lost, then Crystallographers
may build the CIFs by copying atomic coordinates from the published
scientific literature (generally, authors have a copy of their own
published papers).
- we have suggested to Crystallographers to use another possibility
which is to send a request to the CCDC or to FIZ in order to obtain
freely their own data in CIF format (a free access is offerred  outside
of the CSD and ICSD databases regular commercial distribution - for
instance, visit the CCDC request form at :
http://www.ccdc.cam.ac.uk/conts/retrieving.html )
We do not see how the COD could differentiate and reject CIFs
obtained by Crystallographers in this way. CIFs are CIFs.

 From the consultation of several lawyers about crystal data
in databases, the unique answer is that crystal data are facts,
and being such, are not copyrightable (but the way the data are
presented can be copyrighted if there is some value added).

The CRISMAT Laboratory, which will accomodate the next
AFC Congress, is one of the main CIFs donators (why it should
be curious that laboratories as a whole could decide to send
their crystal data to the COD ?).

Best regards,

The COD Advisory Board :
Michael Berndt, Daniel Chateigner, Xiaolong Chen,
Marco Ciriotti, Lachlan M.D. Cranswick, Robert T. Downs,
Armel Le Bail, Luca Lutterotti, Hareesh Rajan,
Brian H. Toby, Alexandre F.T. Yokochi

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