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[Fwd: Crystallographic databases in France]

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

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Date: Tue, 06 May 2003 09:32:14 +0200
From: Alan Hewat <hewat@ill.fr>
Subject: Crystallographic databases in France
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Dear AFC members.

Armel Le Bail and others complain that crystallography databases are not freely available in France, and so they want to create a new one (COD). But why duplicate something that already exists ?

ILL and ESRF Grenoble already operate a WWW server for the ICSD inorganic database, which contains 65 000 entries. It could be extended tomorrow to serve the whole of France if only ~8 other labs would agree to contribute 1500 Euro each per year. This system already works in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, where all scientists have unlimited access. Please contact me if your lab. might contribute, or if your lab. already pays an ICSD subscription.

In setting up his rival database, Armel suggests that Crystallographers might request CIFs from the existing databases and submit them to him. This is incorrect. FIZ-Karlsruhe and CCDC-Cambridge explicitly state that this data is for personal use and that "information retrieved from the database shall not be passed on to third parties not belonging to the group of authorised users".

He also states that if people copy data, there is no way of telling (CIFs are CIFs). This is again incorrect. Small systematic errors make it possible to check the origin of data using computer techniques. And even if an illegal action cannot be detected, this does not make it acceptable. 

He rightly says that anyone can use published data. But this does not mean that anyone can simply copy data from one database and publish it in another, even if they originally produced the data. It is the use of the database that is protected, not the data itself.

Hoping that you can help to make the existing databases available to all.


Dr Alan W. Hewat, Diffraction Group Leader.
Institut Laue-Langevin, BP 156X Grenoble FRANCE 38042
fax (33) tel (33) (or .26 Mme Guillermet) 
<hewat@ill.fr>  http://www.ill.fr/dif/AlanHewat.htm

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