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Communications of the ACM

Legally speaking

Text and Data Mining of In-Copyright Works: Is It Legal?

mining pick and binary code, illustration

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Text and data mining (TDM) uses statistical analysis tools to extract new knowledge from large quantities of text or data for purposes by finding patterns, discovering relationships, and analyzing semantics. It is used in a wide variety of fields from biomedical research to digital humanities. Copyright poses no obstacle to TDM research as long as the corpus of text and data being analyzed consists solely of public domain works.a Copyright may, however, be a barrier to TDM research as to vast arrays of in-copyright works created in the past century.

This is because copyright regulates making copies of protected works and TDM requires researchers to make several types of copies during different stages of the process: from scanning copies of analog works to formatting the texts and data to preparing them for processing to extract useful information from the vast quantities being searched to storing the data after mining is completed.


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