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Commission proposes a research-friendly copyright for open science and innovation in Europe

Brussels, 9 December 2015

European researchers and innovators should have the explicit right to process on a large scale the content to which they have legal access. That is why the European Commission proposed today a mandatory exception for research in the EU copyright legislation.

This exception should overcome the current fragmented copyright regime across the EU, the lack of clarity around copyright and ownership of derived works, and the inadequacy of licensing solutions. These obstacles have so far hampered the use of technologies commonly known as Text and Data Mining (TDM) in the EU. As a result, researchers – especially those from public interest research organisations – have felt discouraged to use such techniques to analyse vast amounts of digital content.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Scientific research is collaborative and knows no borders, so the currently fragmented copyright regime in Europe is simply unacceptable. We also need to ensure that Europe does not fall behind other regions of the world, where text and data mining is already made easy. I have strongly supported a copyright exception for our researchers and innovators because they should be given the best conditions to do their jobs. The exception proposed today will be pivotal in spurring innovation and growth in Europe."

The harmonisation of the copyright exception for scientific research purposes was identified earlier this year as a key for the functioning of the Digital Single Market. The planned exception will help the scientific community and innovative companies that have established collaboration with them – in particular in the case of public-private partnerships – make the best use of digital content they have already lawfully acquired or obtained access to. It will help bring coherence among the EU's 28 Member States and remove key barriers to Open Science and Open Innovation.

The legislative package, including the exception for research, is planned to be released in spring 2016.


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.

Today, the implementation of the exception on scientific research (Article 3(a) of Directive 2001/29/EC) differs across the EU and the lack of a clear EU provision on TDM for scientific research purposes creates uncertainties in the research community. Moreover, the current situation harms the EU's competitiveness and scientific leadership at a time when research and innovation activities increasingly take place through cross-border and cross-discipline collaboration and on a larger scale.

The Commission is currently assessing this matter, including as regards the impact on the publishing market, and will consider legislative proposals in the area of exceptions to allow public interest research organisations to carry out text and data mining of content they have a lawful access to, with full legal certainty, for scientific research purposes.

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