Today marks the anniversary of the Berlin Declaration. It has been twelve years since the creation of this ground-breaking document, which recognised that ‘in order to realise the vision of a global and accessible representation of knowledge, the future Web has to be sustainable, interactive, and transparent’.
It signified an awakening to access to information in the modern digital age. Since then, hundreds of scientific organisations have signed up.
For the first time ever, the Internet now offers the chance to constitute a global and interactive representation of human knowledge, including cultural heritage and the guarantee of worldwide access. – The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003)The anniversary of the Berlin Declaration is no less significant because it falls during International Open Access Week, promoting ‘the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need’. With the Berlin Declaration, scientific and research organisations were, and still are, working together to show that knowledge dissemination is complete when the information is widely and readily available. As new technologies have emerged in subsequent years, these principles are just as important.
The Hague Declaration
That is why in July of this year a new declaration was created, this time relating to Text and Data Mining (TDM). Now that technology allows vast quantities of research data to be mined, we have the potential to make new discoveries that could help us address some of society’s grand challenges. Just as with the Berlin Declaration, The Hague Declaration aims to mobilise the scholarly community behind a set of principles. Underpinning The Hague Declaration is the recognition that, particularly since the advent of the internet, technology has changed the way we operate. Big data can’t be dealt with in the same way as paper-based documentation. A regulatory update is required that is clear, democratic, responsible and smart.
The Hague Declaration is managed and supported by LIBER, whose member libraries purchase access to a wide range of scholarly information. We are acting on behalf of a research community that wants to further knowledge discovery but can only do that if, having been granted the right to read the information, they can use that information to best effect. Content mining is a vital part of that process but access to facts data and ideas needs to be just that — accessible. If researchers are able to make new discoveries that are beneficial to society, they should do so responsibly but not be limited, for example, to non-commercial environments.
The European Commission, aware of the need to make the EU single market fit for the digital ag,e is now giving unprecedented attention to this issue, including through imminent copyright reform. As stakeholders, we have a responsibility to ensure that policy shapers are aware of the issues that will affect us, otherwise we will miss an incredible opportunity.
Through The Hague Declaration, we can show that there is an informed and growing body of support for the principles of better access to facts, data and ideas. The Declaration provides practical solutions and outlines key areas that need addressed now. LIBER will continue to present this document to EU institutions, policy makers and stakeholders at every opportunity, and with every signature our voice is stronger. We ask you to sign!