As the Digital Republic Bill makes open data mandatory for local communities beyond 3500 inhabitants, an appraisal mission has been assigned to the association, Open Data France. The aim of this mission is to prepare the local authorities to put in place the default mechanism for open of data as foreseen by article 4 of the Digital Republic Bill.
The French Digital Council expressed its satisfaction with the adoption of the Digital Bill by the joint committee composed of senators and deputies. An intense debate preceded the bill’s adoption, as over 2500 amendments were put forward. The Digital Council highlighted the great quality of these discussions which confirms the increasing importance for the national representatives of the debated matters. The Digital Council welcomes many elements of the bill such as open data; a balanced right to portability; the measures promoting accessibility and inclusion; the exception to copyright in order to enable scientific text and data mining, etc.
Based on the compromised version of the Digital Republic Bill agreed by senators and deputies on 29 June 2016, some of the bill highlights are:
Although the draft digital bill was adopted by the Senate, special attention is drawn to the number of amendments adopted, despite the government’s opinion. In total 13 government amendments were rejected during the debate, which is not surprising given that the Socialist party does not have a majority in the Senate. Certain legal provisions risk posing problems vis-à-vis the European regulation, i.e. the interdiction to process French data stored outside of Europe or the amendment obliging platforms like e-Bay to automatically declare the earned income of its users. The next step is for the Joint Committee composed of deputies and senators to agree upon a compromised version of the bill.
In order to ensure copyright protection, current French law forbids scientists to reuse published scientific articles. The legislators risk heavily undermining public research by creating multiple legal hurdles to text and data mining. Unlike their counterparts abroad, copyright and databases laws do not allow French scientists to reuse scientific articles, even their own or those they purchased. Therefore it is imperative that the Digital Republic Bill takes this into consideration and allows for an exception to copyright laws that would enable and encourage text and data mining. This would enable the French research community to seize new scientific opportunities and would curtail researchers’ departure abroad.