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A Question of Balance: Private Rights and the Public Interest in Scientific and Technical Databases

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Citation Edit

National Research Council, Committee for a Study on Promoting Access to Scientific and Technical Data for the Public Interest, A Question of Balance: Private Rights and the Public Interest in Scientific and Technical Databases (1999) (full-text).

Overview Edit

This Report identifies and evaluates the various existing and proposed policy approaches (including related legal, economic, and technical considerations) for protecting the proprietary rights of private-sector database rights holders while promoting and enhancing access to scientific and technical information (S&T) for public-interest uses. Specifically, the Report addresses the following:

1. Describe the salient characteristics and importance of scientific and technical databases in research, both in general categories and using specific examples.
2. Describe the practices of the production, dissemination, and use of S&T data in the federal, nonprofit, and commercial contexts.
3.Identify the major incentives and disincentives in the production, dissemination, and use of S&T data in the federal, not-for-profit, and commercial contexts.
4. Review the key elements of existing and proposed intellectual property rights regimes for noncopyrightable databases and other "collections of information," including technical protection measures, with specific emphasis on S&T databases. Also review the federal government policies regarding scientific data production, protection, dissemination, and use, particularly for data produced or disseminated by nongovernment entities under an agreement with government, including with government funding.
5. Consider the pros and cons of legal, policy, and technical options identified in response to item 4 above, with particular attention to balancing the interests of S&T database providers and disseminators in protecting their investments with the interests of promoting access to and use of S&T data for research and other public-interest uses.
6. Identify issues that require further analysis and resolution, and how to address them.
7. Provide conclusions and recommendations where possible, or otherwise provide an assessment of options.

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