Opening Up Information In A Pandemic, Rather Than Locking It Down: The Open COVID Pledge Is Important
from the information-sharing-is-the-way-forward dept
People who are actually engaged in real innovation know that the real breakthroughs and advancements don’t come from solitary geniuses having a eureka moment, but from the open sharing of information to bring in a variety of perspectives and to build upon the work of others. And yet, for years, some have drilled the myth of the lone inventor into people’s minds, along with the idea that we need to lock up ideas and knowledge to give those inventors “incentive.” Yet, if the true advancements come from people sharing and building on each other’s ideas, this is the exact wrong approach. Now in the midst of a massive global pandemic we’re seeing the ridiculous outcome of people trying to abuse or expand exclusivities — which most actual innovators know will hinder, rather than help.
So it’s exciting to see many pushing for a very different approach. A bunch of smart innovators, organizations, and academics have put together the Open COVID Pledge, in which they all agree to share whatever information and technologies they have that might otherwise be locked down, free of charge, for the purpose of ending the pandemic:
Immediate action is required to halt the COVID-19 Pandemic and treat those it has affected. It is a practical and moral imperative that every tool we have at our disposal be applied to develop and deploy technologies on a massive scale without impediment.
We therefore pledge to make our intellectual property available free of charge for use in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and minimizing the impact of the disease.
We will implement this pledge through a license that details the terms and conditions under which our intellectual property is made available.
I’m happy that this is being done, but honestly am a bit disappointed in how few organizations have signed up. Among companies the biggest is Intel, which is good to see, as that company can be a bit overly aggressive in patent enforcement at times. Mozilla and Creative Commons are there — which isn’t too surprising. There are a bunch of universities — but mainly the law school parts of the universities, rather than say, the science and engineering parts.
Hopefully more companies and universities (including science and engineering departments) will start to sign up for this. The middle of a pandemic is no time to be fighting over who gets to own what tiny piece of the solution.