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Summary and proposals

Texte intégral


Open Science”, new rights for digital uses

Main directions:

- Create: Create a right to Open Science guaranteeing free access and free reuse of data from public research
- Balance: Redefine the economic balance of the digital science ecosystem
- Secure: Adopt Article 18 bis (new) of the Digital Republic Bill creating an exception to copyright and the right of database producers in favour of text and data mining for data from public research (research articles and data) in order to secure automated data-processing practices and reduce the risk of misappropriation
- Compete: Enable French public research to acquire legal and technical resources that are at least equivalent to those of its European and American counterparts, and in line with the international Open Science movement
- Protect: Protect legitimate interests – exploitation, secrecy, patents, copyright, privacy and personal data

What is Open Science?

1Open Science is a new horizontal approach to access to scientific work and objectives, and to sharing of scientific results, as well as a new way of DOING science, by opening up its processes, codes and methods.

2The Open Science project offers a renaissance of global “encyclopaedic” views, through such themes as the decompartmentalisation and large-scale sharing of knowledge: in the digital age, this concept stresses the “leveraging” of knowledge such as occurs, for instance, through the in-depth exploration of digital databases containing scientific journals.1

3Open Science is therefore a change in perspective that can be compared with other earlier major stages, such as the advent of the telescope or the microscope.

4Open Science thus seeks to take into account the changes brought about by the major “open” international platforms: they provide access to new arrangements for research actors (digital innovation, civil society), facilitated by new sharing approaches (digital laws), and leading to novel types of results and regulations (data and analysis platforms, scientific social networks, new forms of collaboration, etc.).

5Open Science, a field that is far wider than open access, which is limited solely to publication, refers to all the different ways and means of enhancing scientific work offered by digital technologies.

An inevitable international movement

6Open Science is part of an international movement towards greater openness. Many countries have already legislated in favour of open access and text and data mining. International and European governing bodies are advocating this step forward.

7In June 2015, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, defined three priorities of action: “Open Innovation, Open Science, Openness to the World”. Open Science is defined by Brussels as encompassing all the “transitions” that accompany digital changes in science.2 In 2015, the OECD developed a similar approach with emphasis on the possible global breakthrough that Open Science3 could represent, conditional on concerted action.

In France: Elements for a national Open Science strategy

8The CNRS strategy “A better sharing of knowledge”4 revealed the need to catch up in the area of digital practices of scientific publication on platforms.

9These themes were also addressed by the Scientific Board of the CNRS in its unanimous recommendation, as well as by the Ethics Committee.

10Many voices have come out in favour of Open Science. The government itself has taken an ambitious stance, particularly in its “Government’s Digital Strategy” of 18 June 2015, as well as in the explanatory statement for the Digital Republic Bill. The national consultation on the draft Bill set science apart as a priority theme of the national consensus on digital technologies and as a theme where the views of researchers and institutions coincide, on the basis of simple principles:

  • science is a common good of humanity;

  • legitimate interests of protecting secrecy and exploitation should be preserved;

  • text and data mining is a natural right of digital observation necessary to researchers in their scientific process;

  • clauses on exclusive transfer of copyright laid down in publishing contracts should be declared null and void;

  • it should be possible to freely exploit knowledge industrially or commercially in a consolidated ethical framework.

11This White Paper proposes to step back and reflect on the uses of research results, in particular by means of key witnesses who wished to express themselves and whose opinions generally converged. These contemporary digital uses are presented in the context of the existing legal framework and the resulting conflicts are discussed.

The absence of legal antagonism

12The analysis of the legal framework revealed that current French and European laws are no hindrance to the introduction of positive rights. The rules of law applicable to digital practices need to be updated in order to secure access to and use of scientific and technical information via online platforms.

13In its current Articles 17 and 18 bis (new), as adopted at first reading by the French National Assembly on 26 January, the Digital Republic Bill proposes significant advances. The French legislation may go further in affirming the common values of the world of research and consolidating the right to conduct text and data mining.

The need for new rights for science

14Several findings underlie the presentation of this White Paper:

  1. The need to update the rights on the uses of digital science in France: these uses should be fully in line with all those that have been adopted, in particular by our larger neighbours and by Europe. This is not the case today and this updating is necessary.

  2. The diversity of scientific publishing ecosystems and the digital practices that accompany them: our country is specific in this regard and adaptations must be found, in France as elsewhere, to enable scientific publishers to work alongside all the scientific communities.

  3. The dominant direction is the development of digital Open Science: this avenue is developing in all major countries today, offering terms for Open Access and Open Process according to models that are still far from stable.

  4. The lines of work for new rights on uses are the subject of recommendations detailed in this White Paper, and in particular the amendment of Article 17 of the Digital Republic Bill in its draft version, resulting from the adoption of the Bill at first reading by the French National Assembly (26 January).

15It is hoped that our national representatives and society in general take full advantage of this prospective and expertise study on the digital uses of science: this work is now available to all those with a stake in the future sharing of knowledge that France intends to define.


16Listed below are the findings that emerged from the hearings with the representatives of the research communities and researchers.


The multiplication of platforms and the weakness of their contractual framework have generated a need for new governance.

The multiplicity of STI objects calls for a clarification of the law and a balance between access to scientific knowledge and preservation of the potential for STI exploitation in all its components.

The absence of a legal status for data exploration is a source of legal insecurity that the law must address.

The absence of a legal status for data exploration and the unsuitability of the right of database creators to the dynamic processing of knowledge are sources of legal insecurity that the law must address.

Publishing contracts signed by researchers for articles they wrote in the framework of publicly funded research largely provide for exclusive transfers of rights in favour of the publisher. These constitute one-sided standard form contracts.

To carry out their work, researchers need open and free access to all scientific data in digital form, consisting of:
     • scientific results, including the results published by a scientific publisher;
     • research data in the sense of the data used to establish these results.

Researchers have expressed the need to share scientific data.

The practice of depositing articles in archives or on platforms in specific fields should be generalised.

Researchers have expressed the need for:
     • a “one-stop shop” for scientific knowledge;
     • egal regulation of the platforms.

Researchers need access to the latest state of knowledge. If an embargo period can be defined as part of a compromise with the publishers, it must not exceed the maximum time limits provided for in the Recommendation of the European Commission (C(2012) 4890) (6 or 12 months depending on the category of discipline) and the time limits observed in other countries, as otherwise French research runs the risk of marginalisation and discrimination. The principle of a distinction between the exact sciences and the human and social sciences has been challenged.

The provisions ensuing from Act No. 2015-1779 cannot be used to adapt the public provision of data produced by the education and research establishments and institutions.
These provisions are not in line with the needs of researchers and the uses of scientific communities, and do not take into account the nature of the data (data from ongoing research, know-how, a restricted regime area, etc.).

Scientific texts and publications can be protected by copyright if they are original in their form of expression. Researchers own the copyright over their scientific articles and texts.

Open Science must preserve secrets as well as public safety.

The French Research Code already contains in its principles the foundations of a digital law for Open Science. 

Main recommendations

17Listed below are a series of proposals to be discussed with all parties, with a view to optimising the uses of digital scientific information.


Adoption of Article 17 of the Digital Republic Bill (adopted text No. 663)


Adoption of Article 18 bis (new) of the Digital Republic Bill creating an exception to copyright and the right of database producers in favour of text and data mining


Participation in the creation of a European process of “Open Science” (a priority of the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation for 2016)


Creation of reference guidelines on the use of digital STI


Definition of a set of ISO standards on the uses of STI


Definition of model contracts for the transfer of copyright


Drafting of an ethical charter for digital science


Creation of an Agency for the Development of Open Science


Creation of an international convention for Open Science

Notes de bas de page

1 These fertile explorations may be either synchronic, as on PubMed Central, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/, or diachronic, as in the example quoted by the NSF, http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=135258

2 Open Science “describes the ongoing transitions in the way research is performed, researchers collaborate, knowledge is shared, and science is organised. It is enabled by digital technologies.”

3 OECD (2015): “Open Science is more than open access to publications or data; it includes many aspects and stages of research processes.”

4 http://www.cnrs.fr/dist/strategie-ist.htm

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