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Copyright, at international, European and national levels, does not provide a legal framework that prioritizes enabling and incentivizing research using protected works and information to the extent necessary and desirable in a digital, data-driven society in order to build a sustainable ecosystem for innovation and creativity. While small progress has been made, for example with the recent introduction of specific exceptions for research purposes and for text and data mining in certain national legislations as well as in the European Union law, a horizontal approach towards a more research-friendly copyright ecosystem has so far failed to evolve. By revisiting international and European human and fundamental rights instruments as well as the aims and objectives of the European Union, it is possible to distill research as a constitutional and ethical imperative. Conceptualizing a fundamental ‘Right to Research’ and integrating it into a constitutional dialogue provides a convincing argument to rethink copyright towards a research-oriented normative system.