[OAI-general] OAI and intellectual property issues

Steve Hitchcock sh94r@ecs.soton.ac.uk
Thu, 19 Jul 2001 17:28:13 +0100

The spirit of OAi seems to have been well observed so far, but in the 
broadening of OAi to digital libraries there are dangers ahead. This thread 
highlights this but hasn't really got to grips with it.

The relevant legislation seems to be Directive 96/9/EC, Legal Protection of 
Databases, the implications of which are briefly described at
and a copy of the directive at

Expert interpretations seem to be hard to find. Charles Oppenheim has 
written about this, but I can't find anything online to link to.

I guess this directive would give Thomas' RePEc database some protection. 
The point about preventing others from building similar services using OAi 
metadata would seem to be trickier.

Herbert has covered the data provider issues. From the legal point of view 
I'm not sure there is anything exceptional in the relationship between OAi 
DPs and service providers, compared with a non-OAi equivalent. The 
difficulty DPs have in setting terms of use at this stage is that maybe 
they can't anticipate what SPs will want to use their data or, more 
significantly, what their business models will be.


At 06:24 19/07/01 -0700, billn wrote:
>I believe that the IP issue here is real and will cause problems unless
>OAI sets a standard disclaimer that says (essentially):
>"You are permitted to harvest metadata from this site for the purpose of
>access and/or providing a service for others. You may build services
>with metadata and claim IP rights for the metadata *plus* service, but
>you may not prevent or interfere with others who harvest metadata even
>for the same purpose. Only the created service can be protected by IP,
>not the metadata or access rights."
>While this probably leaves loopholes a lawyer could drive a semi
>through, OAI needs something that establishes its *intention* in the
>legal arena. I imagine a call to the EFF could provide some help with
>the wording.
>This style should cover the use of public and free access sites, but
>some additional restrictions may be added where a private company who
>invested large sums to develop the data requires a license and/or
>payment for access to the underlying data. Charging for the metadata
>would be counterproductive, although they may require registration
>This issue will not go away if ignored. It will simply create a quagmire
>of different legal verbiage and restrictions that could cripple the
>potential of a great concept. Please give serious consideration to
>establishing your IP standards.
>Bill Nicholls
>Advanced Software and Technology, Byte.com
>OAI-general mailing list