. "5 The Trend Toward Strengthened Intellectual Property Rights: A Potential Threat to Public-Good Uses of Scientific Data." Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1997.
The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
to reconciling the greater role of the private sector with the public-good aspects of national science policy.
From a long-term perspective, the research and education communities must face up to the fact that new technologies for generating, evaluating, and distributing data will continue to change many institutions on which basic science has traditionally relied. While certain to be disruptive, such changes, suitably guided, could foster and enhance vast new opportunities for the sciences, provided that the scientific community moves to meet the challenges in a timely and sustained fashion.
For example, new modes of organizing and distributing the funds needed to generate data may be devised, while the prospects for internalizing transmission and publication costs through the use of electronic communications networks merit careful study. To the extent that widespread commercialization or privatization of data does result from the adoption of new intellectual property rights and other factors, it could stimulate the scientific community to organize its own institutions or mechanisms for the management and dissemination of scientific data, which could operate outside the commercial arena. Because the research and educational communities are both producers and consumers of data, collective action along these lines could make science itself an increasingly important player in the market for databases generally, as well as a stabilizing force in determining the balance between public and private interests.199 How to organize such large-scale undertakings will require careful thought and study in order to avoid sacrificing or compromising other goals of scientific endeavor, or undermining traditional norms of science emphasizing objective pursuit of knowledge based on full and open exchange of data.
Meanwhile, the adoption of different legal regimes to protect database makers by countries with different agendas and at varying stages of economic development could further complicate the full and open flow of scientific data across international frontiers. Measures to harmonize the domestic database-protection laws, or at least their effects on the transnational flow of scientific data, will therefore require intergovernmental study, as will measures and proposals affecting the regulation of national and global information infrastructures. Pressures to integrate these and other international intellectual property standards ever more deeply into the global trade apparatus will certainly mount as countries move to implement and expand the TRIPS Agreement and related international conventions within the framework of the World Trade Organization and that of WIPO, which continues to administer the Paris and Berne conventions.
The ensuing tensions and conflicts will make it more necessary than ever to develop a framework treaty to safeguard the full and open exchange of scientific data in an increasingly commercialized environment. The difficulty of regulating both public and private interests within such a treaty should not be underestimated, however, while the developing and least-developed countries are likely to play a more conspicuous role in intellectual property policymaking as time goes on.