More than 300 global organisations and individuals, including LIBER, have signed up to support The Hague Declaration on Knowledge Discovery in the Digital Age.LIBER also led efforts to write the Declaration, which was launched last week in Brussels. It calls for immediate changes to intellectual property (IP) law and the removal of other barriers preventing widened and more equal access to data.
Other signatories include fellow library associations such as ARL, CERL, EBLIDA, IFLA and Research Libraries UK, cultural heritage groups including Europeana, Europe’s digital platform for cultural heritage, and Creative Commons, an organisation focused on building a body of openly shareable and reusable creative work, not to mention numerous other groups including individual libraries, research infrastructures and SMEs.
Improved treatments for diseases, answers to global issues such as climate change, and billions in government savings are among the potential benefits to be gained, if the principles outlined in the Hague Declaration are adopted by governments, businesses, and society.
The Declaration asserts that copyright was never designed to regulate the sharing of facts, data, and ideas—nor should it. The right to receive and impart information and ideas is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but the modern application of IP law often limits this right, even when these most simple building blocks of knowledge are used.
“The rapidly changing digital environment, increased computing power, and the sheer quantity of data being produced make it essential for researchers and society to be able to use modern techniques and tools to help them make new discoveries. Research practices could be revolutionised and lives could literally be saved, if we can achieve better access to the knowledge contained within big data,” said Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen, president of LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries, which has led work to develop the Declaration.
For libraries, the Declaration is important because, as institutions, they are at the centre of the data deluge: investing heavily in preserving born-digital content, digitising cultural heritage and in facilitating data sharing.
Libraries know that enabling content mining will have several benefits, such as maximising the return on investment of public money and allowing researchers to fully realise the value of the content held by libraries. This will, in turn, ensure a more rigorous approach to research, including more through reviews of the literature.
For all of these reasons, LIBER encourages libraries to sign the Declaration by visiting the website, and to work towards its principles. We also call on libraries to provide support to their researchers by giving training on content mining literacy, including legal advice.
In so doing, libraries will officially recognise the huge potential for knowledge discovery and will help bring to light the steps which need to be taken to ensure that everyone can benefit from this potential.