Publicly Funded Research: Tell Us Your Opinion
Subject:   Disingeneous argument
Date:   2002-01-16 07:19:51
From:   chip_coons
Andrew Dalke argues the philosophy of:

"If the public pays for the research, it should have access to the results of that research."

As being too vague, then provides supposed conflict on constitutional grounds:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

- Article I, Section 8, Clause 8

Which is the constitutional basis for patents, not licenses.

For a patent to be issued, the code must be disclosed as well to demonstrate that is a unique idea or invention and it must in-turn identify prior art on which it is built.

Publishing code under an open-source or free license does not abridge the rights of the publisher (copyright still holds) or the patent holder (they can put limits on the license as the author himself notes with some proprietaty/educational licenses).

I think the real question is, as a taxpayer, why should I pay someone to develop a proprietary software tool which they can then make more money off of?

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  • Disingeneous argument
    2002-01-16 13:13:26  dave-man [View]

    Hmmm. A more interesting question is "why should the public pay someone to develop a software tool that they then charge us again to use?"

    In most of my contractual dealings with the federal government, the government has non-exclusive rights in data in perpetuity. In other words, they can use the tool forever without paying any more for it (support is a separate consideration). The developer may however also retain rights to the code, and sell/lease/license it commercially as they wish.

    A similarly interesting, follow-on question is "To what extent, if at all, should the rights of the government flow through to the citizen taxpayers it (the government) purports to represent and serve?"