Sunday, March 15, 2009

All about commons- By Gutam Sridhar

Patents and Copyrights under Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) had tried to block the further innovation and research and development. The researchers who are engaged creation of new knowledge had started experiencing difficulties in the continuing their research and development activities. They were looking for gaining access to research tools which are protected by patent rights. The patent laws in the world does not have any significant research exemption.

To address this issue, The “Commons” have started to organize themselves and put forth alternatives for the sharing the created knowledge and works. The “Commons” is derived from Old French comun and Latin comm┼źnis which means “‘common, public, general’” and refers to resources that are collectively owned from land to software (Wikipedia).

Creative Commons' “Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally” is the one which had a wide impact in the knowledge dissemination. It has become popular in creative works of arts. Now, Creative Commons (CC) provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators to easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry and can use CC to change their copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved." And now CC support open access for scientific literature “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (Peter Suber)”. The US National Institutes of Health now requires open access to funded research. CSIR in India also now adopted the policy of Open Access. Many of the Indian authors are publishing their articles in open access journals and ensuring their work is cited more by making it openly. And most major journals have granted authors the right to self-publish versions of their peer-reviewed papers.

The Science Commons (SC) is the another project of the Creative Commons. It applies the Creative Commons philosophy and methodology to the world of scientific research. SC aims to clear the legal and technical pathway for accelerating discovery worldwide with its open licenses for copyrighted works, building open source platforms for knowledge management and data visualization.

The CAMBIA – BiOS' “Protected Commons” provides a secure platform where discussion concerning an invention or improvement can take place without the invalidation of future patent applications, or the misappropriation of information by third parties. CAMBIA's Dr. Richard Jefferson who has given shared his discovery of enabling technology “GUS gene” (beta-glucuronidase gene), an indicator for gene expression, for the research and development in biomedical and agricultural biotechnology. By placing patented and patentable technology in a protected commons, patents can be exploited for enabling use of technology by others instead of preventing it. Under this, both patent owners and licensee users of the technology share improvements whether patented or not. Owners of improvements may patent them under confidential, non-public disclosure of improvements under the agreement in legal condition of maintaining the improvements accessible to all other licensees. Thus an incentive to protect the technology for open use. Under BiOS agreements, technology is made available in royalty-free for use in research or in creating products, by anyone in any country, based on a legally binding agreement. The Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) of India's CSIR is also under the Protected Commons.

Now the “Knowldege commons” which believes that the knowledge is for the public and they are free to use and to build upon.

I believe that these commons models shall lead to achieve the scientific freedom and openness which will again lead to more discoveries for benefit of mankind.

As Posted By: Gutam Sridhar

1 comment:

Hari Mohan said...

Sridhar’s article on the “Commons” is both interesting and informative. Their mission underpins the philosophy of socialism. The approach to wealth and knowledge should be distributive in order to achieve a utopian state.