Friday, January 21, 2011

Every Thesis Defended in Slovakia will be Compulsory Published Online

In the end of the last year Slovak parliament passed (and President signed) so called anti-plagiarism amendment of the Act on Schools of Higher Education (hereinafter as "the Act"). This amendment basically legislates that each student of Slovak university have to give his consent (license) to have his thesis published online, otherwise he wont be able to defend the thesis and subsequently finish his higher education. These provisions apply not only to bachelor or master students, but also doctoral students and habilitation works.

According to Section 69(9) of the Act each student have to conclude an non-exclusive and territorially unrestricted license agreement, where he agree to have his work released and communicated to public, with Slovak republic (represented by Ministry of Education) prior to his thesis defense (in connection with Section 52(8)). This license agreement shall be concluded without any remuneration. By default every thesis will be published with electronic information identifying rights and technological protection measures disallowing printing and downloading of the work, but student can consent to publish his work without these restrictions. Also supervisor of the thesis and its opponent shall give a license to have their opinions published in this way [Huťko is very curious what shall constitute "the work" in this regard]. Works will be published online in so called Central register of the qualification works (CRZP). If the thesis includes trade secrets, classified information or personal data, this part shall be embodied in the special attachment which is not subject to publication. In order to protect possible patentable technical solutions or some other interests [this is only Huťko's assumption], Act legislates that student can postpone the online publication within CRZP to 12 months. This period could be exceptionally extended to another 24 months (amounting to 36 months in total) under special conditions following special procedure. The only works that are excluded from the online publication are those that have been already published in the form of periodical or non-periodical publication. There is no time limit after which thesis shall be take down. However, every student that published his work as a periodical or non-periodical publication after his graduation can subsequently ask for the removal. The details of this publication have to be proved to CRZP.

The Act also includes explicit provision saying that thesis shall not interfere with legal interests of others, in particular intellectual property rights, personal data etc. If this provision appears to be infringed after publication within CRZP, student may request removal of his thesis. All liability for infringements committed due to this online publication are in the sole liability of the student.

The law will come into effect on the 1st of September 2011.

Huťko's concerns are as follows:
1. Will this really help?
2. Isn't this actually measure having equivalent effect as statutory license?
3. If so is this amendment compatible with the information society directive, especially exhaustive list of limitation and exceptions and the three step test?
4. What about non-remuneration aspect of this law?
5. What if student changes his mind about DRM protection afterwards?
6. Why on the earth an opponent and supervisor of the thesis have to give a license to publish his opinion?

The text of the Act in Slovak can be consulted here. Legislative process tracked here. Some discussion here and here.

For discussion on IPKat here.

2 comments:

von Copy-Rghter said...

The law-makers are abandoning continental copyright and commercial law principles. There are serious contradictions in this new law: both statutory license and compulsory consent; publishing is commercial contract that can't be free; measuring achievements in education and sciences cannot depend on copyright waiver; copyright waiver signed with the school is null and void against third persons etc.E.g. if somebody else publish a paper, despite the student’s consent to publish his work without these restrictions.

Huťko said...

Thank you for your comment.

Actually it is not copyright waiver (if I understand what constitutes waver correctly), you just give them license (non-exclusive which is revocable in a way), not waive your rights entirely. Such a waiver would be void in Slovakia as you mentioned.

And you'r perfectly right that this is the problem of autonomous contracting - what kind of free will is this?