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Copyright Law Is Killing Science 323

HansonMB writes "Whereas copyright tends to focus on protecting artists' ability to make money from their work, scientists don't use similar incentives. And yet, her work is often kept within the gates of the ivory tower, reserved for those whose universities or institutions have purchased access, often at high costs. And for science in the age of the internet, which wants ideas to spread as widely as possible to encourage more creativity and development, this isn't just bad: it's immoral."
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Copyright Law Is Killing Science

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  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @09:36PM (#35948854) Homepage Journal

    I think one of the central issues is whether a patent stops progress or creates progress. It only creates progress in the incentive for new work to be done.

    The purpose of patents is not to create an incentive for new work to be done. The purpose is to enable new work to build on older (patented) work, by convincing inventors to publish their inventions rather than keeping them secret.

    The way to tell if a patent system is working is to look at how many inventors are making use of the patent database to get ideas, or to find solutions to problems they're struggling with. A really good patent system would make the following interaction commonplace (but with real content rather than technobabble):

    Engineer: Hey, boss, I've been trying to come up with a way to reverse the polarity in the tachyon waveform inducer and I'm having some trouble. I have some ideas about how to solve it, but I think it's going to take me at least six months to work out the details.

    Manager: Hmm. We had planned to have that done by the end of the quarter. Have you done a patent search to see if this is a solved problem?

    Engineer: Not yet, but it's on my list of things to do. You really think someone has already got this figured out, and published it?

    Manager: Heck if I know, but with millions of new patents being filed every year, I'd say it's worth at least a couple of hours searching.

    Engineer: I'll get right on that.

    [A couple of hours pass]

    Engineer: Hey, boss! Good idea on the patent search. It turns out that an inventor in Okeechobee filed a patent for a really slick tachyon induction polarity inverter just last year. It's exactly what we need and she's already solved a bunch of problems I hadn't even considered. I think I can have a working prototype integrated within a few days after we get a license to the patent.

    Mangaer: Great! Send me the patent number and I'll have our attorney get a letter to her right away. I'll bet we can get a license within the week. This will cut a month -- maybe two! -- off the time to market for our new product. Thank goodness for patents!

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas