Blogs

RSS FeedBlogs
RSS FeedSubscribe to this blog
About Author
Glyn Moody

Glyn Moody's look at all levels of the enterprise open source stack. The blog will look at the organisations that are embracing open source, old and new alike (start-ups welcome), and the communities of users and developers that have formed around them (or not, as the case may be).

Horizon 2020: Defending Open Access and Open Data

Article comments

At the end of last year, I <a href=http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/open-enterprise/2011/12/from-open-source-to-open-research-opening-up-horizon-2020/index.htm>wrote about the important Horizon 2020 initiative. Here’s how it <a href=http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm?pg=h2020>describes itself:

Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020 with an ‚¬80 billion budget, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe.

Serious money, as you can see. But equally important are the ground rules it adopts, since they will have a major impact on how research is conducted across the whole of the European Union. In particular, a crucial issue is how the results of research funded by Horizon 2020 will be made available. Since the public is paying, it’s only fair that the public should have free access, and that means an open access mandate is a key part of the initiative.

The details of Horizon 2020’s <a href=http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-790_en.htm>open access requirements were set out in July of this year:

the Commission will make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Research & Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020. As of 2014, all articles produced with funding from Horizon 2020 will have to be accessible:

articles will either immediately be made accessible online by the publisher (‘Gold’ open access) - up-front publication costs can be eligible for reimbursement by the European Commission; or

researchers will make their articles available through an open access repository no later than six months (12 months for articles in the fields of social sciences and humanities) after publication (‘Green’ open access).

The Commission has also recommended that Member States take a similar approach to the results of research funded under their own domestic programmes. The goal is for 60% of European publicly-funded research articles to be available under open access by 2016.

As you can see, the EU’s open access policy is important not just because it applies to the ‚¬80 billion Horizon 2020 project, but also because of the knock-on effects it will have on other publicly-funded research. That means it is vital that we get this right.

Sadly, though, the lobbyists have been at work again trying to undermine the basically sound proposals of the European Commission. You can read the current text, with recent additions that water down its impact, on the <a href=http://tacd-ip.org/archives/816>TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) site. Fortunately, one of the leading figures in the open access world, Peter Suber, has distilled the problems there into a <a href=https://plus.google.com/109377556796183035206/posts/drJqNn5oZNy>short post, which I urge you to read, along with the interesting comments that have been added to it.

Apparently the final vote in the Industry committee takes place next week, on the 28 November. If you feel inclined to write to them, there’s a full list of <a href=https://memopol.lqdn.fr/search/?q=committees:ITRE%20is_active:1>ITRE members on La Quadrature du Net; the UK MEPs are as follows:

giles.chichester@europarl.europa.eu

vicky.ford@europarl.europa.eu

nick.griffin@europarl.europa.eu

fiona.hall@europarl.europa.eu

roger.helmer@europarl.europa.eu

sajjad.karim@europarl.europa.eu

peter.skinner@europarl.europa.eu

alyn.smith@europarl.europa.eu

And here’s what I’ve sent:

I am writing to you in connection with the vote on the open access provisions of the Horizon 2020 initiative, which I believe you will be voting on next week. I applaud the fact that there are plans to include open access in this, but I am concerned that elements in the current draft will dilute their impact.

For example, in the current version, we read:

"Subject to any restrictions due to the protection of intellectual property, security rules or legitimate commercial interests, each participant shall through appropriate means disseminate the results it owns as soon as possible."

and

"With regard to dissemination of research data, the grant agreement may, in the context of open access to and preservation of research data, lay down the terms and conditions under which open access to such results shall be provided, in particular in ERC frontier research or in other areas of major societal interest, taking into account the legitimate interests of the participants and all constraints pertaining to privacy, national security or intellectual property rights."

It seems to me that the addition of “Subject to any restrictions due to the protection of intellectual property, security rules or legitimate commercial interests” and the similar caveat in the second text above undermines open access: the point is that the public has paid for this work, and therefore has a justified claim to be able to access it freely. The “intellectual property rights” of those producing the work do not trump this, because that work was paid for by the EU citizens, and so public access rights override any attempts to monopolise the results by companies.

I therefore urge the removal of the phrase “Subject to any restrictions due to the protection of intellectual property, security rules or legitimate commercial interests”, and for it to be replaced with a text along the lines of “ Subject to any restrictions due to security rules”.

My other concern is in the following section:

"With regard to dissemination of research data, the grant agreement may, in the context of open access to and preservation of research data, lay down the terms and conditions under which open access to such results shall be provided, in particular in ERC frontier research or in other areas of major societal interest, taking into account the legitimate interests of the participants and all constraints pertaining to privacy, national security or intellectual property rights."

It is increasingly recognised that access to the underlying data is just as important as access to results. Indeed, in some ways it is more important, since the data can be re-analysed by other researchers to produce new results.

As with open access, the justification for mandating the release of data as well as results is that the public has paid for this work, and is therefore entitled to access it freely. Although the public may not have much direct use for such data, it is likely to benefit from others' use of it – something that would not occur if the data is not released under a liberal licence.

I would therefore like to propose that the text be amended as follows:

"With regard to dissemination of research data, the grant agreement must, in the context of open access to and preservation of research data, lay down the terms and conditions under which open access to such results shall be provided, taking into account all constraints pertaining to privacy and national security."

To re-iterate: making open access and open data part of the Horizon 2020 programme is a major achievement, and I congratulate all those involved, but I would urge you to ensure that it is not watered down by any counterproductive amendments being introduced at this stage.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

Share:

Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:


PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.


We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

ComputerworldUK Knowledge Vault

ComputerworldUK
Share
x
Open