Commission proposes copyright exception for researchers

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Commission proposes copyright exception for researchers

Brussels, 14 September 2016

As part of its update of EU copyright rules, the European Commission today proposed a copyright exception that would permit researchers to analyse on a large scale scientific data to which they have lawful access.

Included in the legislative proposals for the modernisation of copyright in the Digital Single Market, the aim of this exception is to provide legal clarity and a level-playing field to researchers who use innovative data analysis techniques. This will enable them to more rapidly and efficiently discover new ground-breaking solutions to major challenges such as global epidemics or climate change.

Research-Friendly Copyright
for Open Science and Innovation

With research and innovation activities increasingly taking place through cross-border and cross-discipline collaboration, the current lack of copyright law consistency across the EU affects scientific progress. The proposed mandatory exception would require Member States to allow research organisations acting in the public interest to use text and data mining (TDM) for analysing digital content that they have already lawfully acquired or accessed.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Science needs a copyright law that reflects the reality of the modern age. We must remove barriers that prevent scientists from digging deeper into the existing knowledge base. This proposed copyright exception will give researchers the freedom to pursue their work without fear of legal repercussions, and so allow our greatest minds to discover new solutions to major societal problems."

The harmonisation of the copyright exception for scientific research purposes was identified as key for an innovative Digital Single Market. It will support European competitiveness by fostering Open Science.

The proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Member States within the Council of the EU. The approval of the legislators will be needed before it comes into force.


Text and data mining (TDM) refers to technologies through which vast amounts of digital content are read and analysed by machines. TDM is used in science and research, notably to discover correlations between materials produced in different scientific fields and to generate new knowledge. By analysing text and data on a large scale, European researchers and innovators can better and quicker find answers to pressing challenges.

By including the exception in the proposed draft Directive, the Commission is following suit to an announcement in its Communication of 9 December 2015.

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EC Spokesperson for Research, Science and Innovation