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member nodes have adopted. The element of flexibility that conditional deposits afford make these federated data management systems particularly responsive to the realities of current university research in areas of scientific investigation where commercial opportunities are especially prominent.

Basic Proposals

Several proposals are suggested for universities, and include the following:

  • Develop interinstitutional agreements and cooperative institutional approaches to ensure unimpeded access to and liberal uses of scientific data and information in a not-for-profit research commons, while allowing for commercial exploitation of those resources in the private sector, when this is considered necessary and appropriate.

  • Develop model contractual provisions for interuniversity and interresearcher relationships and for cooperative research with the private sector that protect access to and unrestricted use of publicly funded research data by not-for-profit scientists.

  • Vigorously promote nonexclusive licensing by authors of their scientific articles to scientific, technical, and medical journals rather than assigning exclusive copyrights.

  • Initiate and review pilot projects for certain disciplines or categories of data to test the results.

Ancillary Considerations

We are aware that considerable thought has recently been given to the construction of voluntary social structures to support the production of large, complex information projects. Particularly relevant in this regard are the open-source software movement that has collectively developed and managed the GNU/Linux Operating System and the Creative Commons, which seeks to encourage authors and artists to dedicate some or all of their exclusive rights to the public domain. In both these pioneering movements, agreed contractual templates have been experimentally developed to reverse or constrain the exclusionary effects of strong intellectual property rights. Although neither of these models was developed with the needs of public science in mind, both provide helpful examples of how universities, federal funding agencies, and scientific bodies might contractually reconstruct a research commons for scientific data that could withstand the legal, economic, and technological pressures on the public domain.7


See pages 425 to 456 of Reichman and Uhlir, op. cit., note 1. We propose the contractual regulation of government-funded data in two specific situations: (1) where government-funded, university-generated data are licensed to the private sector, and (2) where such data are made available to other universities for research purposes.

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