appropriate copyrights for the community

Published by gtaylor on 1 December 2005 - 1:41am
We're now in the embryonic stages of the community.  At this juncture, we have no copyright notifications on the site.  I'd like advice on what is appropriate for our goals.   Open Wetware is using a Creative Commons logo in their footer.  Here's a link to their copyright wording.  PLoS on the otherhand only has a copyright footer showing up on the article pages themselves.  Creative Commons License All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.  How shall we approach this for the Malaria research community?  Looking for legal input as well as scientific desires. 

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For the time being at least, it seems to me that the Creative Commons Attribution License used by PLOS is the way to go. This license cuts off the fewest options. The share-alike requirement additionally employed by the OpenWetware community could be considered more "restrictive" (or at least more aggressive) to the extent that it requires those who build upon the material in the malaria community to make their work available under the same terms. That may be something we want to do at some point, but right now I am not sure it is appropriate.   As for whether the license appears in the footer of every page or not, that does not really make a difference legally. But an appearance on every page does make things more clear. So if it's not too much of a hassle, why not have it appear in the footer of every page.At some point, we should also discuss issues regarding publication. IMHO, we want to make it clear to the community that contribution to this project is in no way inconsistent with conventional publication. So we could have "embargo" periods for information contributed. Also, if the publication itself has particular restrictions even after the article is out, we would work with that.
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At this juncture I'm simply pointing to logos and language directly on the Creative Common site.  What do you think about drafting our own version that includes their language and provides an additional section with guidance on what people should and shouldn't do. For example, although people can link to other copy protected information, they shouldn't attach or upload other copyrighted material on this site.  Although we are a site about sharing, we're not pirates who use other people's intellectual property at our whim. I'm not thinking of anything too heavy handed just good guidance on the fact that people need to be respectful of other IP.  Just a thought, I'll leave the details to you.  Feel free to send me an email with the copy and I'll post a page and link to our footer. Oh yes, let me know if I need to modify what I just posted too...

It is important to think about what we're trying to do strategically instead of just choosing licenses.  For the pilot stage, just doing science in full view of the world is clearly enough.  Debating copyright looks like a diversion of energy in that environment.  For the long term, the short answer is that our work will only be meaningful if sponsors like Gates decide to take it forward into wet biology and ultimately animal and clinical trials.  We should set policy in consultation with them, the whole point is to do something they find congenial.When we do get around to thinking about copyrights etc. we should be careful to remember that this environment is very different from computer open source and that old ways of protecting the information may need to be modified.  In the database world, companies have no copyright at all -- but practical "self-help" like embargos work really, really well.  This isn't just about preserving publication, although that's one issue.  It also matters if you want to do things like make sure that somebody doesn't come in and patent quick and easy extensions of the group's initial insight.  Or if you want to let organizations like Gates take out patent rights on drugs where they think that this would be worthwhile.  An embargo is easy to do, gives you a reasonable time to exploit the knowledge on your own, and gives the information to the world once you've done as much with it as you are likely to.  For most purposes an elegant way to proceed.As I say, all of this is premature at this point.  The main point is the IP rights are not a goal, just a tool that we should use if (and only if) it serves some identifiable end.
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Other than the distraction angle, are you suggesting that no copyright notice is actually better than the one below - Creative Commons?
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Arti, if this requires more debate, can you please lead a live discussion.  Pull in Stephen and perhaps your friends at science commons. It would be great if you could own this for us and let us know the proper course to follow.  Ideally you'll have firm direction for us by mid January.  Is that doable with your other salary paying commitments?

If you pull in the guys at science commons, let me know their level of interest in what we're doing.

Also, let me know if you want me to remove the current footer until you've had more time to analyze this.  It takes a whopping minute to change. 

Am happy to discuss this with Science Commons.  Will keep you posted.

As Steve Maurer notes, the real IP issue is not copyright over our discussions but patent rights if and when we get something that looks like (say) a validated target.  At that point, would it be helpful for Private-Public Partnerships that might work with the target and possible leads to have patents? We are quite far away from that right now, so no need to worry. But that is an issue for the long term.