Show me the data!

Taking inspiration from Cameron Neylon, I have written a DRAFT letter to my local MP urging him to support the recommendations in the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property.

[UPDATE: Letter now sent :) ]


Dear Don Foster,

As a graduate research student at the University of Bath, currently using textmining techniques to do scientific research in an efficient and comprehensive manner, I urge you to sign this early day motion (no. 151, tabled 11.06.2012).

Aside from my tweets to @DonFosterMP last night I have never before been moved to formally contact you, but this urgently requires your action.

Simple desktop computers can interpret vast amounts of digital information. The capacity, tools and eagerness already exist to enable scientists to do systematic reviews, knowledge syntheses, and innovative analyses on a scale never before imagined. But there is one barrier alone that stifles all this strong potential for good: current UK copyright law.

The exceptions for digital content proposed by Professor Hargreaves in his review would be a boon for research (; Chapter 5). It is galling that 87% of the research contained within UK Pub Med Central cannot be legally mined for information (p47 of the report). Especially exasperating when we are allowed to manually ‘human-read’ nearly all of this content. We just are not allowed to efficiently use machines to read the literature for us.

Current UK copyright law is outdated and is sometimes the *only* factor holding back scientific research. We need to remove this unnecessary artificial barrier to let UK scientists perform world-class research with modern and innovative tools and ideas. Otherwise we will be left in the Dark Ages, instead of the Bright, Shiny Digital Economy of the Future.
Yours sincerely,

Ross Mounce

PhD Candidate & Panton Fellow
Fossils, Phylogeny and Macroevolution Research Group
University of Bath,

Further resources:
* The Hargreaves Report
* PMR’s response to the Hargreaves report
* TechDirt – UK Publishers Pretend To Embrace Copyright Reform… In Order To Kill Copyright Reform
* Glyn Moody’s – Review of the UK Government Response to the Hargreaves Review