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

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Conference proceedings

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Data and information produced by government-funded, public-interest science is a global public good caught between two different trends. On the one hand, the Internet provides valuable new opportunities for overcoming geographic limitations and the promise of unprecedented open access to public information for research on a global basis. On the other hand, there are growing restrictions on the availability and use of public data and information arising from the privatization and commercialization of such sources. This countervailing trend undermines the traditional scientific cooperative and sharing ethos. It diminishes the public domain and open access to such global public goods and leads to a host of lost opportunity costs at both the national and international levels. To address these issues 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 jointly organized this symposium, which was held on March 10-11, 2003, at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The symposium brought together policy experts and managers from the government and academic sectors in both developed and developing countries to do the following 1 describe the role, value, and limits that the public domain and open access to digital data and information have in the context of international research 2 identify and analyze the various legal, economic, and technological pressures on the public domain in digital data and information and their potential effects on international research and 3 review the existing and proposed approaches for preserving and promoting the public domain and open access to scientific and technical data and information on a global basis, with particular attention to the needs of developing countries.

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  • Information Science

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