Petition for Open Data in Crystallography

Petition text

It is requested that CSD, ICSD, CRYSTMET and ICDD provide a light version of their content (crystal data or powder patterns) at no cost on the Web. A light version consists of the complete database that is fully searchable on the Web by crystal parameters and references and returns the CIFs. It would not consist of the other value-added possibilities produced by these companies, which would stay inside of the toll versions - unless, of course, they want to give more... The principle defended here is that the atomic positions in natural or synthetic crystal samples of our Universe are not copyrightable.

More than 2000 signatures were collected that supported our petition; 10 signatures were placed against our initiative. We thank everyone who signed the petition, and we are glad that so many scientists around the world supported our action. We will also take the negative comments seriously; we are however convinced that the the COD undertaking is a fair, legal, and very necessary one.

At the moment, the signatures of the petition are no longer accepted. The case for petition is over: no positive answer was obtained from the databases, and, with the invaluable help of the volunteers and CIF contributors, the COD is growing fast.

Please stay tuned for our future initiatives, and in the meantime enjoy the COD CIF collection!

The COD Advisory Board - Dec 2008

More information

The Open Data principles have great supporters in crystallography with mainly the PDB, AMCSD and NDB, all offering full crystal data access at no cost on the Web. The other essential crystallography databases (CSD, ICSD, CRYSMET, ICDD) are available by a fee subscription. The COD expected to produce a minimal database in the same domains as these four last ones. The COD growing depended on the data (CIF) upload of individuals, or laboratories, and it was asked for permission to download the CIF in free access at the IUCr and ACS (etc) websites. These expectations seem to fail, or are not fulfilled fast enough. The IUCr asked for letters of support for the COD from crystallographers unable to obtain a copy of the Cambridge Database (see letters below). Hence this petition, in a slightly different direction (but waiting for an improbable petition effect, you can continue to upload your CIF files to the COD).

PS - As said by DLR, Caltech,"considering all that one can do with a CSD subscription, its hard to imagine why CCDC won't consider a lite version, if only to stimulate users to try and find the funds for a full CSD subscription."

Letter from the COD to the IUCr
Answer from the IUCr
Comments from CCDC
Answer from the COD to the IUCr and the CCDC
The Columbia University declaration
Letter announcing the petition to the IUCr (May 4, 2005)
Letter from the COD announcing > 500 signatures to the IUCr (May 16, 2005)
NIH subsidy of CSD
CCDC says there is already free Web availability of CIF datasets (May 18, 2005)
The COD answer : this Web CCDC access is not searchable... (May 18, 2005)
The American Chemical Society vs. NIH's PubChem