Versión en español disponible en Diario El Mostrador

In Chile, the scenario is critical. Although we are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), our system of copyright exceptions for research is one of the most restrictive. There are no provisions that can be enforced to allow Text and Data Mining and, even those that could be applied, do so with very specific limitations that make their actual use impossible.

Text and Data Mining (TDM) is currently one of the promising research tools that the digital era offers and is part of what is known as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

TDM is a practice used in research and refers to the ability of AI to interpret and process large amounts of data, allowing patterns to be identified by algorithms. This innovative method of data analysis can be used in almost every conceivable area of research, such as the renowned case of the Canadian health surveillance program Blue Dot, which, through data processing, was able to identify and alert, one month before the World Health Organization, about the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan.

The major obstacle faced by researchers involving the use of tools such as these, in countries such as Chile, is that TDM requires, as an initial and essential step, full access to the data of text materials and databases to be analyzed, which means in practice that, when access to this information is needed, its downloading or open access may not be available. Instead, the information is protected by copyright, meaning that its use requires authorizations, payment of fees or subscriptions to journals or virtual libraries. Although this option may be accessible for some institutions, what it really generates is a discouragement to research, an unnecessary expenditure of resources and, finally, it ends up violating the right to research. This is why several legislations around the world, most recently Japan and Singapore, have opted to incorporate in their regulations specific exceptions to the copyright that protects works, in order to give way to development and innovation.

In Chile, the scenario is critical Although we are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), our system of copyright exceptions for research is one of the most restrictive. There are no provisions that can be enforced to allow Text and Data Mining and, even those that could be enforced, do so with very specific limitations that make their actual use impossible.

Chile is among the countries whose regulations exclude tools such as TDM and, although today there are international instruments that address this issue. In the article published in the journal Science «Legal reform to enhance global text and data mining research», several experts analyze that these regulations have been made using high standards for the protection of copyright, leaving the issue of exceptions -such as those that allow research- to the full discretion of the legislative bodies of each country.                                   

As the publication states, this situation has generated a fragmented landscape of exceptions in the world, causing a large part of the problems in access to copyright information to arise in cross-border uses. In this sense, and following the proposal made by the Science publication, coalitions of researchers and academics are proposing that the World Intellectual Property Organization draft a treaty that allows cross-border use, and other types of research materials, to enable TDM everywhere. This would follow the example of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled adopted in 2013, which establishes exceptions in line with copyright for people with disabilities.

It is also worth mentioning the statement made by Luis Villarroel, director of NGO INNOVARTE, a Chilean non-profit organization that is working on these issues, in his column «Inteligencia Artificial y Derechos de Autor» (Artificial Intelligence and Copyright), published in October of this year in El Mostrador, where he concludes that it is a priority for the development of science and research in Chile, through artificial intelligence and text and data mining, that legislation be passed to update the copyright law in this area.

It is time to rethink our legislation and how we approach research in Chile, since -as the Science study shows-, coincidentally, the countries and regions whose regimes are more open to research are those that are richer compared to those that, on the contrary, have a more restrictive copyright regulation.

The updating of research systems and environments must begin with the involvement of the main actors who are adversely affected by the current research system. In this regard, several civil society organizations are already raising these issues in international forums.