Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Harnessing the benefits of openness

CED chairmenThe Committee for Economic Development, a major-league US business lobby, has published a hard-hitting report on the advantages of openness (via Open Rights Group). The report's authors include such well-known communists as Citigroup's CTO and IBM's Senior VP for Research. Their key recommendations:

  • Because of the advantages of open standards, the Council recommends that governments encourage the development and use of open standards through processes as open to participation and contribution as possible. The Council believes that the participation of civil society would be beneficial in the formation of standards with important social consequences. The Council also recommends that the results of government-supported research be readily available for inclusion in open standards, as they have been in areas such as grid computing.

  • The Council believes that, rather than replacing one another, proprietary software and open source software will co-exist, with each playing an appropriate role in the information and communication technologies (ICT) environment. The Council opposes any requirement forcing governments to make purchasing decisions based on the licensing system used. It recommends that the U.S. government not advocate purchases based on any particular licensing scheme—proprietary or open.

  • The Council believes there are certain critical functions of government that should be conducted solely with interoperable technology; in these critical areas, no citizen should be required to use the hardware or software of any particular vendor. The Council recommends that the United States support such interoperability requirements in international procurement as well. The Council also recommends that international agreements entered into by the United States regarding intellectual property should reflect the nation’s historically balanced intellectual property regime reflecting the interests of both first and follow on innovators.

  • In order to foster open innovation, the Council recommends not only that the NIH should continue their efforts to expand the dissemination of the research they support, but also that other federally funded, unclassified research should be made broadly available. Consistent with the position it has taken in its earlier reports, the Council recommends that any legislation or regulation regarding intellectual property rights be weighed with a presumption against the granting of new rights. The burden of proof should be on proponents of new rights to demonstrate with rigorous analysis the necessity of such an extension, because of the benefits to society of further innovation through greater access to technology.

  • Finally, the Council suggests that the National Science Foundation (NSF) fund research into alternative compensation methods, similar to those created to facilitate the growth of radio, to reward creators of digital information products and accommodate the changes brought about by the digitization and growth of the Internet.

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