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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 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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