New approach to scientific process by promoting data sharing and research results is referred to as “Open Science”. Compared to traditional research methods, Open Science supports sharing results very early in the process to reach more stakeholders and address challenges in a more effective way. As a result, there is no longer a complete ownership over knowledge or research outputs, and there are many challenges regarding the IPR and technology transfer in Open Science.
These issues were in the very core of the “IPR, Technology Transfer & Open Science – Challenges and opportunities” workshop, organised jointly by JRC and DG Research and Innovation on 9th March in Brussels.
“Open” data often means that anyone can access, use, modify and share data for any use, but Open Science is not “a free science”, therefore level of data protection and open access to information were thoroughly discussed during the 3 panel sessions of the workshop: the first one tackled IPR and technology transfer in an Open Science context, the second one addressed Open data and the revision of the IPR framework, and finally, the third panel session discussed how can the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) conciliate Intellectual Property rules.
The first panel discussion revealed many uncertainties about IPR and technology transfer in an Open Science context. Different practices in business and science were compared; business solutions always rely on funding, whether science praises the concept of openness, although in practice it is not always respected. At the moment, 80-90% of data is not re-used. However, availability of highly usable data can only be obtained by incentives provided to researchers, apart from the mere peer review of articles. Research community does support open access goals in general, but there is a huge concern about perceptions of quality when one is publishing in open access journals, as well as about IP and confidentiality issues for open research data.
Second panel discussion on Open data and revision of the IPR framework again faced many contradictory practices. There was a unified understanding of open access for publicly funded research data. Access and re-use remained an issue; traditional publishers use non-standardised and usually restrictive licenses. One of the biggest issue at the moment is a Proposal on Copyright in the digital single market COM(2016)593 and EC Communication Building a European Data Economy, 10.01.2017 COM(2017)9 final; in the same document there is a recommendation for free movement of data and creation of control over it.
The third panel session offered insight into the EOSC and IP rules. EOSC should be an environment for cross discipline and cross boundaries research. Apart from technical issues, there are again governance and IPR issues that need to be addressed urgently, given that implementation plan should be done in the next 18 month. In that context, technical issues are minor obstacle compared to the legal challenges. Current plan for the EOSC is to connect research nodes in Europe and to provide a single access point for simultaneous search of multiple data sources, but in terms of IPR and privacy there are very blurred limits of the level of protection and openness. As funder, EC is expected to set some rules, even generic ones.
It was concluded that data should be as open as possible for publicly funded research, and the burden of proof should be on arguments for not making data open. Therefore, issues across data ecosystem should be mapped, and connection to Research Infrastructures should be made in order to establish bottom-up approach on IPR and related issues. On the other hand, IPR rules should be simplified and aligned in open licenses. Production of high quality data should be priority for funding and awarding of grants. Common standards in metadata, presentation of data, and in data citation should emerge as soon as possible.