influence the thinking of others, their employers also have in mind a combination of organizational mission and funding considerations. Table 2.1 summarizes typical objectives of government, not-for-profit/academic, and for-profit organizations in producing and disseminating S&T databases and the different weight each places on mission versus financial considerations.

In government and not-for-profit research organizations, including universities, basic research institutes, and national laboratories, the advancement of knowledge as an intrinsic good and in the service of national goals motivates the production and distribution of S&T databases; exploiting data for financial gain is subordinate to fulfilling public-interest objectives. The data products of not-for-profit and government organizations are judged primarily by criteria that are not directly profit related, such as their value to end users, their potential value in advancing a field, their ability to enhance the status of an institution and its research or educational capabilities, and similar objectives typically associated with public-interest or public good activities related, for example, to improving knowledge of disease factors or interdependencies within ecosystems.

Of course, not all not-for-profit institutions behave in this generalized way. At one end of the spectrum are organizations that, especially if they are fully subsidized, distribute their data freely on the Internet without any effort at cost recovery. Many individual researchers or academics certainly operate this way. At the other end are not-for-profit institutions that seek to maximize the revenues from their S&T databases, subject to the constraints of their tax-exempt status, to finance future R&D and database development in order to remain at the forefront of their respective fields. Most not-for-profits, however, fall somewhere in the middle in trying to reconcile their public-interest mission, on the one hand, with the need to generate sufficient operating revenues, on the other. Universities present a good example of this dichotomy, with the trend in recent years toward greater cost recovery1 and greater attention to the protection and exploitation of their intellectual property.2

In contrast, the for-profit sector seeks mainly to generate profit for management and shareholders. Of course, market success also depends on creating value for users—otherwise, the data products would not be successful. High-value can translate to high prices, and such pricing inevitably restricts access. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to the rule here as well, since not all for-profit entities attempt to charge as much as they could for their proprietary databases, perhaps


For a discussion of the trend in academic institutions to protect their research results as intellectual property, see Kenneth W. Dam (1998), "Intellectual Property and the Academic Enterprise," John M. Olin Law & Economics Working Paper No. 68 (2d Series), University of Chicago Law School.


Intellectual Property Task Force (1999), "Intellectual Property and New Media Technologies: A Framework for Policy Development and AAU Institutions," Association of American Universities, May 13, Washington, D.C., 31 pp., available online at <>.

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