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INTRODUCTION



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Open Access and the Public Domain in Digital Data and Information for Science: Proceedings of an International Symposium INTRODUCTION

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Open Access and the Public Domain in Digital Data and Information for Science: Proceedings of an International Symposium 1 Welcome by CODATA President Shuichi Iwata University of Tokyo, Japan I would like to express my gratitude and extend my heartiest welcome to all participants who have come from all over the world to attend this international symposium on open access and the public domain in digital data and information for science. This symposium is jointly organized by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the U.S. National Academies, the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), and the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI). The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the U.S. National Weather Service also provided support for this workshop. The United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) takes place in Geneva in December 2003 and in Tunis in 2005. The scientific and technological community has a key role to play in the development of an information society for the benefit of society as a whole. The overall aim of this symposium is to identify and define the key messages that the international scientific and technical community wants to convey to the other stakeholders in the information society during the WSIS process. Data, information, and knowledge prepared by scientific and technological communities, in principle, are public goods, and they should be shared by everyone. If a set of data, information, or knowledge is simple enough for everyone to understand its meaning there are no problems in following this public-good principle. However, most of the data, information, and knowledge are complex and are usually processed, which adds different meanings, values, and sometimes barriers. Even if these data become available in the public domain, many technical and societal issues arise. Who can take advantage of the vast amount of scientific and technical data, information, and knowledge and who cannot? How can we deal with terabyte data of different semantics, qualities, and sometimes with intellectual property rights? CODATA’S ROLE IN PROMOTING OPEN ACCESS CODATA has recently undertaken several activities that address these issues. Together with ICSU, CODATA has sponsored an ad hoc Group on Data and Information since 1997, which has focused on the importance of full and open access to scientific data and information on a global basis. This group submitted a white paper on these issues to the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1997 and subsequently developed a set of guiding

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Open Access and the Public Domain in Digital Data and Information for Science: Proceedings of an International Symposium principles.1 The ICSU/CODATA ad hoc group held a workshop in Baveno, Italy, on the “European Union’s Directive on the Legal Protection of Databases.” CODATA also held several sessions on these issues at its 2002 international conference in Montreal, Canada.2 In addition, ICSTI, working with ICSU and CODATA, held a meeting on the important topic of preservation of digital content, more particularly on the topic of continuous availability of digitally produced materials. There are significant technical, administrative, and economic issues associated with the longer-term availability of scientific data and information, and these constitute important elements in establishing policies in the area of open access.3 More recently CODATA has worked with ICSU and UNESCO in promoting the role of scientific information in the emerging information society, as input to the WSIS. CODATA is working with ICSU and UNESCO in planning a workshop on “Science and the Information Society,” which will immediately follow this symposium.4 This workshop will bring together scientific experts, managers, and representatives from several intergovernmental agencies to try and identify the major issues for science in relation to the WSIS. The product of this workshop will be an agenda for action that will be submitted to the WSIS. 1   See Access to Databases: Principles for Science in the Internet Era at http://www.codata.org/codata/data_access/principles.html. 2   See the keynote and related plenary session on “Legal Issues in Using and Sharing Scientific and Technical Data,” as well as the plenary session on “Information Economics for Scientific and Technical Data,” in the 2002 CODATA Conference Proceedings, which can be found at http://www.codata.org/codata02/index.html/. 3   ICSTI, along with INSERM and INIST, also organized an international meeting on January 23-24, 2003, on the subject of “Open Access to STI: State of the Art and Future Trends”; see the INIST Web site at http://www.inist.fr/openaccess/index_en.php for additional information. This meeting evaluated the consequences of recent organizational and technical developments on the wider availability of scientific information. The meeting also dealt with the issues from the point of view of authors, publishers, and audiences, especially those in the developing world, and policy makers. 4   For additional information on the “Workshop on Science and the Information Society,” see http://www.icsu.org.