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Jun 20, 2008 Commentary
Public domain, copyright licenses and the freedom to integrate science

by John Wilbanks

From the life sciences to the physical sciences, chemistry to archaeology, the last 25 years have brought an unprecedented shift in the way research happens day to day, and the average scientist is now simply awash in data. This comment focuses on the integration and federation of an exponentially increasing pool of data on the global digital network. Furthermore, it explores the question of the legal regimes available for use on this pool of data, with particular attention to the application of “Free/Libre/Open” copyright licenses on data and databases. In fact, the application of such licenses has the potential to severely restrict the integration and federation of scientific data. The public domain for science should be the first choice if integration is our goal, and there are other strategies that show potential to achieve the social goals embodied in many common-use licensing systems without the negative consequences of a copyright-based approach.

Volume 7 • Issue 02 • 2008