Here are a few excerpts:
The question of “Who owns science?” is therefore a crucial one, the answer to which will have broad-reaching implications for scientific progress and for the way in which the benefits of science are distributed, fairly or otherwise. Two of the most pressing issues concern equity of access to scientific knowledge and the useful products that arise from that knowledge.
The current system of managing research and innovation incorporates a complex body of law governing the ownership of “intellectual property” — copyright and patents being the most familiar. Intellectual property rights are intended to provide incentives that encourage the advancement of science, enhance the pace of innovation, increase the derived economic benefits and provide a fair way of regulating access to these benefits. But does it really achieve these purposes? There is increasing concern that, to the contrary, it may, under some circumstances, impede innovation, lead to monopolisation, and unduly restrict access to the benefits of knowledge.
We believe it is time to reassess the effect of the present regime of intellectual property rights, especially with respect to the area of patent law, on science, innovation and access to technologies and determine whether it is liberating — or crushing; whether it operates to promote scientific progress and human welfare – or to frustrate it.
Every time the discussion is about patents, trademarks or copyright, people go all polarised. As if the debate is about pinko lefty tree-huggers on the one side and honest sweat-of-brow geniuses on the other.
This is not what the debate is about.
The debate is about old laws no longer being fit for purpose and needing changing. Changing radically. Changing in ways that do not treat everyone (yes, everyone!) as a criminal; in ways that pollute paths of communication unnecessarily; in ways that throw away the value represented by the web when coupled with ubiquitous communications.
The debate is about health, education and welfare.
Not cinema, as some people would have it.
The debate is about innovation.
Not stifling it, as some companies would have it.
So let us continue to have the debate.