Contractually Reconstructed Research Commons for Scientific Data in a Highly Protectionist Intellectual Property Environment

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Date
2003
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From Introduction: "Factual data are fundamental to the progress of science and to our preeminent system of innovation. Freedom of inquiry, the open availability of scientific data, and full disclosure of results through publication are the cornerstones of basic research, which both domestic law and the norms of public science have long upheld. "The rapid advances in digital technologies and networks over the past two decades have radically altered and improved the ways that data can be produced, disseminated, managed, and used in science and in all other spheres of human endeavor. As a result, these changes have given rise to a dramatic increase in the amount of data produced and have fostered unprecedented opportunities for accelerating research and creating wealth based on the exploitation of data. Every aspect of the natural world, from the sub-atomic to the cosmic, all human activities, and indeed every life form, can now be observed and captured through an electronic database. Whole areas of science are entirely data-driven, such as bioinformatics in molecular biology and the observational environmental sciences. All research increasingly depends on easy access to and use of data resources. "Apart from the obvious technological advances that made these activities possible, much of the success of this revolution derives from the U.S. legal and policy regime that supports the open availability and unfettered use of scientific data. This regime, which remains among the most open in the world, has placed a premium on the broadest possible dissemination and use of scientific data produced by governmental or government-funded sources. This policy was traditionally implemented in several complementary ways: by expressly prohibiting intellectual property protection of all information produced by the federal government; by contractually reinforcing the sharing ethos of science through open data terms and conditions in federal research grants and contracts; by carving out a very large and robust public domain for non-copyrightable data; or by applying other immunities and exceptions that favor science and education to intellectual property rights that otherwise protect collections of information."
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intellectual property rights, information technology, public domain, information commons
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