In reality, patents often suppress invention rather than promote it: drugs are "evergreened" when patents are on the verge of running out — companies buy up the patents of potential rivals in order to prevent them being turned into products. Moreover, the prices charged, especially for pharmaceuticals, are often grossly in excess of those required to cover costs and make reasonable profits.
IP rights are beginning to permeate every area of scientific endeavour. Even in universities, science and innovation, which have already been paid for out of the public purse, are privatised and resold to the public via patents acquired by commercial interests. The drive to commercialise science has overtaken not only applied research but also "blue-skies" research, such that even the pure quest for knowledge is subverted by the need for profit. Great stuff, but this is actually just a teaser for the launch today of something called rather grandly "The Manchester Manifesto" [.
In many cases it restricts access to scientific knowledge and products, thereby limiting the public benefits of science; it can restrict the flow of information, thereby inhibiting the progress of science; and it may hinder innovation through the costly and complicated nature of the system. Limited improvements may be achieved through modification of the current IP system, but consideration of alternative models isurgently required. Unfortunately, after asking the right questions, the answer that the manifesto comes up with is pretty thin gruel: We call for further research towards achieving more equitable innovation and enabling greater fulfilment of the goals of science as we see them.
Further research? Modified and alternative models of innovation have the potential to address problems inherent in the current system. An investigation and evaluation of these models is required in order to determine whether they are likely to be more successful in facilitating the goals of science and innovation identified above, and if so how they may be deployed.
Hey, let's not get too radical, eh? Labels: innovation , intellectual monopolies , manchester , open access , science , sir john sulston. There is a nauseating piece of troll-bait in the Guardian today. It's called "My DNA dilemma", and in it Alan Johnson attempts to convince readers he suffers as much as any of us bleeding-heart liberals at the thought of the terrible, terrible sacrifices of freedom we must make for the sake of security.
I won't bother demolishing the rickety edifice of its spin and half-truths, since that has been done expertly elsewhere. Instead, I'd like to concentrate on the key argument of the piece, implicit in its title: This is a classic home secretary dilemma. It is not a clear-cut choice between liberty and security — between siding with the civil liberties lobby or the forces of law and order. The far less headline-friendly reality is the need to balance all these factors — protecting the public, but in a way that's proportionate to the threat.
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I believe that the government's proposals do precisely that but I also welcome the debate as a necessary part of implementing such sensitive measures. There's a tell-tale word in there that I have been tracking for many months as it silently worms its way into public discourse in this country: "proportionate". It's the ultimate argument-killer when people raise the big issues like liberty to defend themselves from ever-more intrusive "security" legislation - which strangely always turns out to be "surveillance" of the little people like you and me.
How could anyone argue with something so reasonable? After all, that's exactly what we all want: a proportionate response that represents a compromise position. There's just one little problem. As the UK government has shown by its use of this word time and again to justify everything from ID cards and policing to Internet monitoring and DNA databases, what they really mean is: we're going to do what we've said because it's what we've decided. In effect, this use of "proportionate response" is simply shorthand for the tautological "our response", but dressed up in a costume of apparent concession.
Then, when the government inevitably claims the same for theirs, it comes down to a slanging match - which at least makes it clear that there is no "consensus". The more we point out the UK government's constant invocation of "proportionate" responses to hide a complete refusal to engage with critics - despite Alan Johnson claiming to "welcome the debate" - the sooner it will drop that tactic.
It might not start to listen - that would be too much to hope - but at least we will have reduced the verbal undergrowth in which it can hide. So, please pass it on about the UK government's "proportionate" meme: after all, it's a proportionate response. Labels: dna database , id cards , liberty , surveillance , UK , weasel words. When searching for news, I'd rather find the original Associated Press article breaking a story, but in a pinch I will settle for a summary.
The pathways in which information flows on the Internet are near infinite, and until now, have always been expanding in size and scope. I have paid subscriptions to the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, but I rarely have time to sit down and devour the daily publications from "front" to "back. Labels: bloggers , google , gordon brown , rupert murdoch , twitter. Open source science certainly seems to be catching on lately: there have been as many articles on the subject in the last few months as in the prevous few years.
Here's a good one, an interview with Walter Jessen. This is his definition of what open source science means: Open Source Science is a collaborative and transparent approach to science. To me, it means four things: 1.
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Open Source: the use of open and freely accessible software tools for scientific research and collaboration. Open Notebook: transparency in experimental design and data management. Open Data: public accessibility of scientific data, which allows for distribution, reuse and derived works. Open Access: public access to scholarly literature. It's well-worth reading, not least for its useful links to related sites. Labels: interviews , open access , open data , open notebook science , open science. Another nicely clueful piece in the Guardian : The emancipatory potential of the free dissemination of intellectual property through infinite replication is overwhelming.
Unlike private property that is subject to scarcity, supply and demand laws and other rigid determinations, immaterial property poses an explosive threat to our deeply rooted notions of proprietorship. It is not only because there can be potentially infinite owners of property that the internet redefines our notion of it.
It is also that people who participate in the exchange of immaterial works do not treat them as property. When they exchange music, books or movies, they are not merely transferring ownership from themselves to others; they simply do not recognise themselves as owners in the first place. Dangerous place, this Internet Labels: analogue scarcity , digital abundance , internet , ownership. Here's an noteworthy story about the different kinds of protection that can be given to software: Mit einer Stellungnahme vom The industry organization representing the interests of their own statements to over small and medium-sized information and communication technology ICT solution providers at the national and European levels of politics requires that copyright protection for computer programs and strengthened against patents on "computer-implemented inventions" ie software is secured.
The Association considers the interests of software authors because of the high inventory and further rise of software patents granted by the European Patent Office EPO in danger. BIKT notes in the comments that are aware of international politics in legal protection for computer programs for a "copyright approach" and had decided against a "patent approach". A parallel patent protection, which manifests itself in many software patents that were granted by the EPO, the decision and threatens the integrity of copyright protection in the program.
It leads to that "be prevented from software authors in the scope of patents in the economic exploitation of their own programs. Labels: copyright , germany , software patents. I've steered clear of the Climate Research Unit CRU break-in since emotions are still running high, while information content remains low.
But aside from the significance or otherwise of the emails, one thing is abundantly clear: if the climate data had been released from the beginning, this would really be a story of negligible interest to the wider world. Here's an insightful post that explores not only that issue of openness, but also an extremely important factor I'd not really appreciated sufficiently before: scientific tribalism. In the context of scientific research, tribes differ from groups of colleagues that collaborate and otherwise associate with each other professionally. As a result of the politicization of climate science, climate tribes consisting of a small number of climate researchers were established in response to the politically motivated climate disinformation machine that was associated with e.
The reaction of the climate tribes to the political assault has been to circle the wagons and point the guns outward in an attempt to discredit misinformation from politicized advocacy groups.
Scientists are of course human, and short-term emotional responses to attacks and adversity are to be expected, but I am particularly concerned by this apparent systematic and continuing behavior from scientists that hold editorial positions, serve on important boards and committees and participate in the major assessment reports. I sincerely hope that these emails do not in actuality reflect what they appear to, and I encourage Gavin Schmidt et al.
This analysis exposes the worrying possibility that the fractures within the scientific community can be further exploited by those who wish to see climate change science damaged and the necessary measures it calls for delayed or even dismissed. It looks like the greatest enemy to climate change science comes not from the denialists - be they fools or knaves - but from narrow-minded tribalists within the scientific community itself who cannot see the bigger picture.
Perhaps we should be grateful for the ugly fissures that the CRU incident seems to reveal, since it gives the people concerned a chance to heal them before they lead to irreversible fractures. Labels: climate change , credibility , denial , open data , open science. Since it's Monday morning, I thought I'd start the week gently, with a little humour, courtesy of a Microsoft job ad. After all, who could read the following without laughing? Labels: computerworld uk , fud , intellectual monopolies , interoperability , jobs , Microsoft , open enterprise , truth.
To achieve this goal, we are working toward developing an entirely research-based scientific curriculum, and three additional resources the discussion forum, research microfinance platform, and research log platform which shall function to dynamically feed information to this curriculum - thereby ensuring the accuracy of the information contained within it, and its ability to maintain par with the course of scientific research.
In addition, each of these resources will also serve to increase the accessibility of the scientific research process for non-researchers by allowing individuals to 1 directly invest in research projects via the research microfinance platform , 2 pose questions directly to researchers working at the cutting edge of scientific research via the discussion forum , and 3 observe the progress of ongoing publicly-funded research via the research log platform. Not quite sure how this will scale, but anything whose "fundamental goal" is "to render transparent the black-box of scientific research" sounds good to me.
Labels: black box , open science , research. The following proposals give some hint of its deep wisdom: Abolish patents. They have not been proven to speed progress: the evidence seems to be to the contrary. Reduce the copyright term to the optimal length suggested by research of about 15 years. It ought to be obvious that works produced in the reign of Queen Victoria should not be in copyright in the 21st century.
Exclude works distributed with DRM from copyright to ensure that copyright works do fall into the public domain when the copyright expires. Reduce the copyright term on computer software to two years, and make copyright contingent on disclosing source code so others can alter the software when it comes out of copyright.
This section also warmed the cockles of my collaborative heart: by telling people that they are expected to be selfish, they become more selfish. Economics students become more selfish because they are repeatedly taught to expect that people are rational and selfish: the association between the two can only strengthen the effect. Society is permeated, especially in business, politics and economics, with the idea that is people pursue their own interests, this will automatically lead to the best outcome, and that, therefore, people should be selfish.
This cannot be fixed by endless incentives to align interests: life and business is too complex for that to work. A free market is not a substitute for integrity. Just share it Labels: capitalism , collaboration , copyright , drm , greed , patents , sharing. In effect, it's a ratchet. But until now, I've not seen a good explanation of what's driving all this although I had a pretty good idea.
The concept of harmonization is not unusual; almost all the states and territories in this country are signatories to the Uniform Commercial Code UCC , a model law in the U. This allows firms in one state to reasonably, predictably, and consistently do business with firms in another state. From a linguistic perspective, harmonization suggests a voluntary coordination that the parties to an agreement will be held to the same, core standards and will be working under the same rules.
But in reality, harmonization of intellectual property laws is different. In the harmonization model, U. This is a fantastic post, with useful links, that fleshes out the following basic argument: The dismissal of voluntary coordination occurs because the U. For most foreign countries, this quid pro quo has become the price of doing business with the U.
On the other hand, it is unusual that the U.
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Therefore, harmonization really is doublespeak for a worldwide adoption of the American intellectual property standard. Indispensable reading for anyone who cares about the global copyright racket - and that should mean anyone who is online, since the tricks used to bolster copyright around the world will have a profound effect on ordinary users there, as the current UK Digital Economy bill makes all-too plain.
Labels: copyright extension , copyright maximalism , digital britain , trade agreements , us , wto. Today, the Bill is finally published, but that particular element now looks almost mild compared to what is apparently coming Labels: copyright , digital britain , intellectual monopolies , lord mandelson , p2p , three strikes. But without a consistent policy to make it available to others, without the use of open standards and unrestrictive licences for reuse, information stays compartmentalised and its full value is lost.
Openly available public data not only creates economic and social capital, it also creates bottom-up pressure to improve public services. Data is essential in enabling citizens to choose between public service providers. It helps them to compare their local services with services elsewhere. It enables all of us to lobby for improvement.
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Public data is a public good. Yup, yup and yup. Via Free Our Data.
Labels: open data , open government , ordnance survey , tim berners-lee , transparency. As regular readers will know, I write a lot about the related areas of openness, freedom, transparency and the commons, but it's rare to find them literally coming together like this, in the Free Culture Forum : Across the planet, people are recognizing the need for an international space to build and coordinate a common agenda for issues surrounding free culture and access to knowledge.
The Free Culture Forum of Barcelona created one such space. Bringing together key organizations and active voices in the free culture and knowledge space under a single roof, the Forum was a meeting point to sit and find answers to the pressing questions behind the present paradigm shift.
The Forum was an open space for drawing up proposals to present the position of civil society on the privatization of culture and access to knowledge. Participants debated the role of government in access to knowledge, on the creation and distribution of art and culture, and other areas. Even better is the extremely thorough charter ; here's it's opening section: We are in the midst of a revolution in the way that knowledge and culture are created, accessed and transformed. Citizens, artists and consumers are no longer powerless and isolated in the face of the content-providing industries: now individuals across many different spheres collaborate, participate and decide.
Digital technology has bridged the gap, allowing ideas and knowledge to flow. It has done away with many of the geographic and technological barriers to sharing. It has provided new educational tools and stimulated new possibilities for forms of social, economic and political organisation. This revolution is comparable to the far reaching changes brought about as a result of the printing press. In spite of these transformations, the entertainment industry, most communications service providers governments and international bodies still base the sources of their advantages and profits on control of content and tools and on managing scarcity.
They put the protection of private interests above the public interest, holding back the development of society in general. Some, however, will alter and refine their methods in response to the new realities. And we need to take account of this. That will all be pretty familiar to readers of this blog. There then follow an amazingly complete list of Things That We Need - which will also ring a few bells.
The use of open standards and open formats is essential to ensure technical interoperability, provide a level playing field for competing vendors, enable seamless access to digital information and the availability of knowledge and social memory now and in the future. All-in-all, this is an extraordinary document with which I find myself in pretty much total agreement. It's an great achievement, and will be a real reference point for everyone working in the fields of digital freedom, openness and transparency for years to come.
Labels: barcelona , free culture , open educational resources , openness , transparency. The Government will consult on proposals to make data from Ordnance Survey freely available so it can be used for digital innovation and to support democratic accountability. Specifically: Data relating to electoral and local authority boundaries as well as postcode areas would be released for free re-use, including commercially. Mid-scale digital mapping information would also be released in the same way.
The highest-specification Ordnance Survey products and services — such as those used by property developers or the utility companies — would be charged for on a cost-reflective basis. I was also interested to read this: Freely available facts and figures are essential for driving improvements in public services. It puts information, and therefore power, in the hands of the public and the service providers to challenge or demand innovation in public services.
The Prime Minister has set out the importance of an open data policy as part of broader efforts to strengthen democracy — creating a culture in which Government information is accessible and useful to as many people as possible in order to increase transparency and accountability, improve public services and create new economic and social value.
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But what's significant is that it clearly feels the need at least to mouth the words: that is, it's aware that it is not in Kansas any more, and that the Ordnance Survey in its current form won't be providing any maps for them Labels: 10 downing street , geodata , gordon brown , ordnance survey , tim berners-lee , uk government.
Oh look, the British Library thinks it has passed a milestone : The British Library has added the ,th item to its long-term Digital Library System. Along with accounts of an year-old man who died after falling out of bed and two men before the courts for bigamy, the paper also reports on President Lincoln recommending to the US congress the passing of a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery, and 'a number of the worst "roughs" of the town' who pelted churchgoers with snowballs after several inches of snow had fallen.
The digitised newspaper joins hundreds of thousands of other items including e-journals, digital sound recordings, born-digital material received through voluntary deposit arrangements with publishers andmore than 65, 19th century digitised books. The Digital Library System within which these items are now stored has been developed by the British Library to enable long term storage of the digital material that forms an increasing proportion of the nation's intellectual output.
Fab stuff Thanks a bunch, BL, for locking up "an increasing proportion of the nation's intellectual output" behind a paywall, where few will ever see it: that's what spreading knowledge is all about, isn't it? Great work from a quondam great institution, more millstone than milestone Labels: british library , digitisation , lock-down , paywall. I've written before about Russia's ambitious plan to install free software throughout its education system. The request for this approached by the head of IT-companies "Armada" Alexei Kuzovkin, who believes that the program supplies Linux to schools is in jeopardy.
But from the beginning of the year funding for the project was pared down to three times, the letter says "Armada", a competition for the introduction of ACT in all the schools have not yet been announced. July 13 The Ministry of Education and Science has decided on the topic of the project in to three lot. The letter "Armada" states that it "will inevitably lead to failure of the project as a result of spreading responsibility among the performers. In her opinion, first of all students will need an adequate amount of different software applications, with simple and understandable, and with that the producers ACT traditionally have problems.
In addition, most likely have to pay for upgrading the operating system update for the same application software. Of course, in future years it will still be many times cheaper to purchase solutions from Microsoft, but there are costs to the economy. Competition Rosobrazovanie numbered NP meant the supply of 60 thousand Russian schools thousand computers license software package in And has Russia condemned itself to years more dependence on Microsoft's products?
Stay tuned for further instalments of this exciting Russian epic Labels: education , medvedev , Microsoft , russia. The general area of the economics of ecosystems is something that I have been banging on about for while. Now we have a Web site and even a glorious PDF report on the subject: The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity TEEB study is a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.
Basically, we'd be mad - not just for environmental reasons, but economic ones too - not to look after our global commons. After all, it's the only one we've got Labels: biodiversity , economics , ecosystems. German-English dictionary : translate German words into English with online dictionaries. The Vlaams Blok 'Flemish Block' opposes the patentability of computer-implemented inventions, it having been found in practice that software patents stifle the innovation capacity of small and medium-size enterprises in the IT industry.
This dissemination of gathered knowledge should not lead to less competition, which is another aspect of innovation, for what are the areas in which cooperation actually reinforces the ability to innovate? In that way, the Union can back the measures which increase the Member States' ability to innovate , both individually and jointly. Strengthen Europe's innovative capacity and the development of a creative and knowledge-intensive economy and society through:.
NL The Vlaams Blok 'Flemish Block' opposes the patentability of computer-implemented inventions, it having been found in practice that software patents stifle the innovation capacity of small and medium-size enterprises in the IT industry. Macro-regional strategies are well-placed to take advantage of transnational potential, to improve cooperation between different levels of government, to make use of a common approach in order to tackle common problems, and to increase regional competitiveness and the capacity for innovation.