Who Owns Science?
Russell Jenkins and Mark Henderson article in the UK The Times July 5 2008 and available on the TimesOnLine comments on the letter that two Nobel laureates wrote to The Times, published the same day.
The issue, as detailed in the above links, is whether science particularly science which applies to medicine and the health of human beings should “belong” to someone and all the details of the scientific investigation, the results and the applications themselves should not be readily available to all for further investigation, development and use.
The laureates, Professor Sir John Sulston and Professor Joseph Stiglitz wrote in their letter “The current system of managing research and innovation incorporates a complex body of law governing the ownership of ‘intellectual property’ — copyright and patents being the most familiar. Intellectual property rights are intended to provide incentives that encourage the advancement of science, enhance the pace of innovation, increase the derived economic benefits and provide a fair way of regulating access to these benefits. But does it really achieve these purposes? There is increasing concern that, to the contrary, it may, under some circumstances, impede innovation, lead to monopolisation, and unduly restrict access to the benefits of knowledge.”
Should medical scientific research be looked upon and treated in a way different than all other inventions or intellectual endeavors from ethical, legal and humanitarian perspectives in terms of property rights and ownership. Should the investments in time, skill and money in these projects be considered more as altruistic investments for mankind rather than the basis for future monetary rewards? What do you think? Who owns science now and who should own science? ..Maurice.