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.

Filed Under: covid-19, information sharing, innovation, open covid pledge, patents
Companies: creative commons, intel, mozilla


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2020 @ 10:59am

    It shouldn't have taken a pandemic for this sharing to happen, in fact the sharing should be what happens with almost everything, all the time, because so much more good can come from doing it than from the restricting it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 10 Apr 2020 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      "It shouldn't have taken a pandemic for this sharing to happen"

      It didn't. A lot of things we currently depend on exist because of open sharing, including several of the programs you use on your computer and on this server to post this message.

      However, some people don't think like that. Trump tried bribing a German company to restrict the COVID-19 vaccine to the US, Jonas Salk refused any patent on the polio vaccine. Both of those mentalities are still around now, and always, the trick is we just don't let the selfish ones win.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 8:51am

        Re: Re:

        Trump tried bribing a German company to restrict the COVID-19 vaccine to the US, Jonas Salk refused any patent on the polio vaccine.

        Trump would patent the sun if he could.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 10 Apr 2020 @ 12:00pm

    Great Idea!

    I hope this idea attracts a lot of attention and a lot of participants.

    Now, if we could only have a similar concept where governments at all levels could sign up agreeing to get the hell out of the way of private solutions, stop being obstructionist with unnecessary and time-wasting licensing and other required approvals, and let science instead of politics rule the day.

    I know this is just crazy talk, but a guy can dream, can't he?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Code Monkey (profile), 10 Apr 2020 @ 12:52pm

    Second on the great idea

    Can we please get some emergency legislation in place to prohibit anyone from copyrighting or patenting any prevention, treatment or cure for Coronavirus????

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Apr 2020 @ 8:53am

      Re: Second on the great idea

      How would one copyright any prevention? Copyrights are works of authorship. Are you suggesting that someone would copyright instructions on how not to get COVID-19?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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