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How science is shackled by intellectual property

"Ownership rights pose a real danger to scientific progress for the public good," explains John Sulston (2002 Nobel prize winner in Medicine), in an article published on The Guardian website.

"IP rights are beginning to permeate every area of scientific endeavour. Even in universities, science and innovation, which have already been paid for out of the public purse, are privatised and resold to the public via patents acquired by commercial interests. The drive to commercialise science has overtaken not only applied research but also "blue-skies" research, such that even the pure quest for knowledge is subverted by the need for profit."

Sulston also points to the just-launched Manchester Manifesto, aimed at proposing "future solutions that will more effectively protect science, innovation and the public good." [30nov09]

Here's his conclusion:

"For science to continue to flourish, it is necessary that the knowledge it generates be made freely and widely available. IP rights have the tendency to stifle access to knowledge and the free exchange of ideas that is essential to science. So, far from stimulating innovation and the dissemination of the benefits of science, IP all too often hampers scientific progress and restricts access to its products.

The Manchester Manifesto, produced by an interdisciplinary and international group of experts and published today, explores these problems and points the way to future solutions that will more effectively protect science, innovation and the public good. It calls on all interested parties to find better ways of delivering the fruits of science where they are most needed."

Read full article.

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