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Janet Hope
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Can the open source approach do for biotechnology what it has done for information technology? Hope's book is the first sustained and systematic inquiry into the application of open source principles to the life sciences. Traversing disciplinary boundaries, she presents a careful analysis of intellectual property-related challenges confronting the biotechnology industry and then paints a detailed picture of "open source biotechnology" as a possible solution.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-03360-3
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 An Irresistible Analogy
    (pp. 1-27)

    Early in the new millennium, ten years after completing an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, I returned to the classroom for a refresher course. The 1990s had been a decade of remarkable breakthroughs in the life sciences. First the “worm”—as the diminutive dirt-dwelling nematodeC. elegansis known to its many enthusiastic devotees—and then the human genomes had been sequenced, ushering in the postgenomic age and triggering a cascade of mysterious new subdisciplines whose names all seemed to end in -omics. Having spent these years pursuing a legal career, largely out of touch with scientific developments,...

  5. 2 The Trouble with Intellectual Property in Biotechnology
    (pp. 28-67)

    We have seen how Richard Stallman and others fought back against intellectual property owners’ interference with the free exchange of information among software programmers. For Stallman, the emotional force of the rebellion derived from his conviction that such interference had the capacity to destroy an entire technical community. But even interference that does not pose such an extreme threat can seriously harm innovation. It is likely, for example, that the Internet would not exist as it does today—as a public good, capable of supporting an enormous variety of next-generation applications—were it not for a continuing commitment to open...

  6. 3 Intellectual Property and Innovation
    (pp. 68-105)

    The potentially adverse effects of intellectual property rights in biotechnology research and development can also be viewed with a wider lens—one that takes in not only the plight of current industry participants caught up in a potential tragedy of the anticommons, but also the broader structural effects of an overwhelmingly proprietary approach to innovation.

    This chapter begins by outlining some established justifications for extending intellectual property protection to biotechnological innovations. Comparing these justifications with what is known about the nature of biotechnology research and development explains why intellectual property rights are often a hindrance rather than a help to...

  7. 4 Welcome to the Bazaar
    (pp. 106-141)

    Chapters 2 and 3 showed how the radical propertization of biotechnology research and development that has occurred over the past three decades introduces inefficiencies that limit its social and economic potential. Nevertheless, as explained in Chapter 3, it is generally assumed that strong intellectual property protection in biotechnology is essential in order to (1) secure investment in innovative activity and (2) permit coordination of contributions to cumulative and/or cooperative technology development. Part of the underlying logic of this assumption is that intellectual property rights can facilitate arm’s-length exchanges of information by conferring a value on information that outlasts its disclosure...

  8. 5 Open Source Licensing for Biotechnology
    (pp. 142-187)

    The last chapter characterized open source software development as a special case of a broader phenomenon, bazaar production, that has existed in a range of commercial and noncommercial settings since well before the advent of the Internet. A key element in this mode of production is the practice of free revealing, in which innovators voluntarily give up all intellectual property rights to their innovations and allow everybody equal access to innovation-related information. One reason open source is a special case is that authors of open source software do not, in fact, give up their intellectual property rights—they just exploit...

  9. 6 Foundations of the Biobazaar
    (pp. 188-236)

    So far in this book I have (1) made a case for the desirability of open source research and development in biotechnology and (2) described the open source approach in general terms, as distinct from terms specific to the software context in which it emerged. While this discussion went some way toward showing how open source principles might be applied in the biotechnology context, it left a number of questions about the feasibility of the biobazaar unresolved. The time has now come to confront those questions directly. Could open source succeed in biotechnology?

    Despite the strong parallels highlighted in Chapter...

  10. 7 Financing Open Source Biotechnology
    (pp. 237-291)

    In Chapter 6 we saw that bazaar governance in biotechnology research and development has hitherto been mostly confined to the noncommercial sphere. In the traditional academic biobazaar, technology transfer to commercial entities is mediated either by straight-forward free revealing or (since the 1980s) by a variety of proprietary mechanisms. The first alternative permits private commercial actors to unfairly lock up the benefits of publicly funded bazaar production; the second creates proprietary incursions into what was once nonproprietary territory, shrinking the scope of bazaar production and threatening ongoing innovation.

    The open source model described in this book differs from the traditional...

  11. 8 Biotechnology’s Open Source Revolution
    (pp. 292-332)

    Chapters 6 and 7 demonstrated that the raw materials necessary for the evolution of open source biotechnology are already present in biotechnology and related industries. But it might be objected that this analysis is unrealistic because it fails to take into account the proprietary predisposition of many key industry participants.

    In arguing for the feasibility of commercial participation in open source biotechnology research and development, I have no wish to understate the difficulties of implementing an open source business strategy. Nor do I seek to minimize incumbents’ likely resistance to the emergence of a new, nonproprietary mode of production. There...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 335-366)
  13. References
    (pp. 367-390)
  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 391-398)
  15. Index
    (pp. 399-428)