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IUCr 1997 Report - International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI)

This report has been prepared by H. D. Flack who assumed responsibility as the IUCr Representative to ICSTI in mid-July 1997, a post left vacant following the untimely death of E. N. Maslen on the 2 February 1997. As a consequence, the IUCr was not represented at the ICSTI annual General Assembly in Philadelphia, USA, in early June 1997. General information on ICSTI and its current projects are available on its web site (http://www.icsti.nrc.ca/icsti/).

Of the points treated at the Annual General Meeting and at the Technical Activities Coordinating Committee, one sees that ICSTI has been active with and completed a Networking Survey, has set up a permanent Web Advisory Committee, has continued its project with UNESCO aid to give access to telematics facilities in the Eastern Caribbean, has continued with its International Classification Scheme for Physics, has made a comparative study of access to journals through subscriptions and document delivery, has completed a multilingual thesaurus in geosciences, has established links between Archive and Information (A&I) services and the ISSN register, and has selected the virtual library topic for special treatment at the 1998 General Assembly since it englobes many of the topics such as metadata and encryptation of current concern. During the General Assembly the President laid particular stress on the need for ICSTI to collaborate with other related organizations such as ICSU and its group on Data and Information, STM, CODATA, AAP, and others. ICSTI set up a new Information Policy Committee to be active in the field of international standards, laws and regulations in order to maximize the use of, and access to, scientific and technical information.

A one-day discussion session was held during the meeting in Philadelphia on the electronic scientific archive, a subject of preoccupation to the IUCr. ICSTI will draw up a clear plan of action concerning this as a follow-up to the ICSU Press Conference on Electronic Publishing in Science held in Paris, France, February 1996. A further session dealt with legal aspects of information transfer.

CSTI graphics project established by E. N. Maslen to measure the efficiency of encoding techniques for different sorts of graphics information has been curtailed for lack of a leader.

ICSTI produces a newsletter (ICSTI Forum) in print form and also available on the web. This publication provides useful current information prepared by experts on topics concerning scientific and technical information. Articles of interest to the IUCr dealt with Information Security on the World-Wide Web, Issues of Global Access to Scientific Data, The Role of A&I Services in Facilitating Access to the E-Archive of Science, and Archiving the On-line Journals. Other Committee documents of use were the annual report of the Committee on Legal Issues, a report on the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and a document containing a bibliography and web sites produced by the Information Policy Committee.

ICSTI was concerned in 1997 with the issue of Copyright Rights in Databases. This matter came to a head due to newly introduced legislation in the European Union which would severely limit an individual's rights to access to databases and considerably increase the rights of the database producer. The dividing line between database generation and publication having become exceedingly fuzzy, ICSTI feels its mandate touches this area. However CODATA has formed an ICSU/CODATA Group on Data and Information which produced a long position paper on access to databases for presentation at a conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, in September 1997.

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Updated 2nd November 1998

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