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Ryan Blough

Student , North Carolina State University, College of Engineering

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A limited Intellectual Property sharing agreement; open-source within boundaries

Intellectual property is an important topic. I have an interest in open-source technological development, but wondered about the real differences in terms of advantages that it provides from the proprietary one.

I propose a model for a contract between multiple parties guaranteeing non-exclusive usage rights, at no cost, for all of the intellectual property of the parties, among the parties. The goal of this model is to provide, within the context of our present laws, a more-open-source system within defined boundaries.

This represents a change, as I understand it, in that contracts are usually negotiated case-by-case and are usually one-to-one. A group of participants, and a blanket condition, are where the opportunity for gain lies. My logic runs thusly: if an unregulated environment offers more opportunity for innovation and growth, then a less regulated environment should also, only to a lesser degree.

What are your thoughts?

Edit: Edited for length, relevant title, added the talks that inspired the concept. I'm basically pitching collaborative consumption of cognitive surplus in the hopes of open-sourcing innovation. [Laughter]

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  • Jan 16 2014: I believe some things should not be patented, like software (Donald Knuth believes this also, which is why he did not patent TeX and put Adobe out of business), certain medicines.
  • Jan 15 2014: So do it. Since it is a contractual consortium you propose, it is merely a matter of getting people to agree and sign the contract. There is no need for new law.
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      Jan 15 2014: Bryan,

      I hear your outcry for action all the time, but somehow I suspect that you yourself is not taking that much action in life.

      Or would you care to give any examples of what you're doing...

      (And please don't give me "I work and I pay taxes")
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      Jan 16 2014: I will take your encouragement as at least considering the idea plausible. If I could solicit more in the way of specifics, however:

      If you held patents and copyrights, or expected to be able to produce them, would such an arrangement hold appeal for you?

      How do you see the incentives for yourself? Would you need more to agree, or is the premise enough?
      • Jan 16 2014: I certainly consider it plausible. Regarding whether or not I would participate would depend entirely on the individual work. If paying my bills relies upon licensing fees, then no interest or interest only in a small group. If it's something "for the ages", I'd be more interested. I already do some work under "no intellectual property claims permitted" terms due to NIH funding, so I'm predisposed favorably to the idea.
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    Jan 15 2014: Doesn't Creative Commons cover your idea?

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      Jan 15 2014: Creative Commons works for non-commercial purposes, among whole categories of user (like education).

      The purpose of my idea is to expand access to already extant proprietary IP, for commercial purposes, among a group of specifically defined participants. When I considered it I was specifically thinking of the tremendous amount of patents held by corporations that sit there on the grounds of preventing possible competition. The other benefit was that, especially for a small holder of IP, outside the boundaries of the group it could still be licensed in the usual fashion (barring exclusivity), or sold, still allowing revenue.

      That being said, I hadn't thought of the merits of not-for-profit uses. I think charitable or non-profit organizations might make excellent partners, with the advertising value of "This life-saving venture brought to you by CORPORATION X patent" taken into account.

      Testing the growth potential of commerce is central to my motive, although I'll grant not necessarily central to the application.
      • Jan 16 2014: You are simply describing an "IP sharing consortium". I think such things have already been done, they just aren't trumped by propagandists. They are business agreements and, thus, private affairs. If you have some IP that you think is close enough to the IP of others for mutually-open licensing to be a good sales pitch, hire an attorney and work up a contract for you and your collaborators.
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          Jan 19 2014: Could you perchance recall any examples?

          I am aware of IP agreements, but the only examples I'm aware of are highly explicit and on one-to-one basis. If data is available, even indirectly, that would be a significant help.

          And once I do have such IP, I certainly will. Alas, still in the process of getting the skills necessary to invent things that work.