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Re: Biological data being used by an unpublished research paper is considered proprietary

Hi Steve,

On Wed, 25 Sep 2013, Steve Langasek wrote:

On Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 12:59:11PM +0100, Peter Rice wrote:

On 16/09/2013 11:31, Faheem Mitha wrote:

This is really not Debian-related, except insofar as the software in question is something that might have been in Debian one day. I talked about that with people on debian-med recently. So, it is technically off-topic.

I posted a reply on stackexchange with instructions to get the data from the EBI SRS server.

However, I have run into this issue before in the context of biological database entries and Debian so it may be worth discussing here. There were objections to including SwissProt entries in the example data for the EMBOSS package because the licensing of SwissProt does not allow them to be edited. That was resolved by agreeing that scientific facts should not be edited so that the files could be accepted as part of a Debian package even though they could not be changed. A fine compromise I feel.

Hopefully, this is a misstatement of the actual rationale for including this data in Debian, because it is *not* acceptable to have packages in main containing data that we are not allowed to modify.

Well, I suppose you can modify the data, but then it won't be the same data. :-)

The real rationale is surely that, because facts are *not governed by copyright*, any licensing claim over this data is ignorable.

So, biological data is not actually copyrightable? Can you (or anyone else) give me relevant documentation about that? Apparently it may vary by jurisdiction. Does anyone know the rules in the EU, which seems to be what is relevant here, since the servers in question are in Europe?

For the record, I've gone ahead and removed the data from my repository, because I wasn't sure whether the person telling me not to distribute it had the right to do so or not. I've added a script to download the data, and will document it. It is not really a big deal either way, but if I had some definite information I could for example email this person back with that information.

I wonder if debian-legal would be a better place to ask this. I haven't asked them.

                                                           Regards, Faheem

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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