IMLS Forum on Text and Data Mining – 1 – Background

I am honoured to have been invited to Chicago to be part of the International Museum and Library Services. Here’s the occasion:

Data Mining Research Using In-copyright and Limited-access Text Datasets

National Forum, April 5 & 6, 2018, Chicago, Illinois
This project will bring together experts and thought leaders for a 1.5 day meeting to articulate an agenda that provides guidelines for libraries to facilitate research access, implement best practices, and mitigate issues associated with methods, approaches, policy, security, and replicability in research that incorporates text datasets that are subject to intellectual property (IP) rights.
Forum attendees will include librarians, researchers, and content providers who will be called to explore issues and challenges for scholars performing data mining and analysis on in-copyright and limited-access text datasets. These datasets are subject to restrictions that lead researchers to obtain permission for each use, to perform non-consumptive research where they do not have read access to the full text corpus, or to work their library to identify whether the content provider’s licensing terms and agreements allow for use.
This project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services award LG-73-17-0070-17.
PMR> I’m excited and hope I can help. The point is that official, legal Text and Data Mining (“ContentMining”) of in-copyright datasets is effectively non-existent in the UK. That’s potentially surprising as the UK passed an extension (“Hargreaves”) specifically allowing it for non-commercial research purposes and promoted it as a great opportunity for wealth generation.

I would like to do it, but I am not, and may comment on this later. But the uncertainties are so great and the difficulties forbidding that no UK University that I know of actively supports it through infrastructure, tools, financial and legal support. Researchers in the UK are left to find their own solutions, in the face of continued obstruction from content providers. Legal language uses “chilling” to describe when people or organizations are frightened of being sued or otherwise penalized. UK TDM free of publisher restrictions has entered an ice age with little prospect of of warming up.

I’ll cover the reasons why in later posts. In the next I will post my own submission to the  meeting.

The meeting aims to create a concerted way forward. The US has a different structure from UK, both legal and academic – US copyright supports Fair Use whereas the UK has very little certainty for the reader/miner.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has very kindly invited me to visit before IMLS. I’ll be talking to Digital Humanities, Computer Science, Libraries, etc and giving a general talk on Tuesday 3 April. Not sure whether it will be streamed. Then catching a ride with the others going to Chicago.

I hope the IMLS meeting will generate progress – we need it.  But it’s very difficult to satisfy all parties without becoming fuzzy and anodyne. That requires a strong sense of purpose.