Is Open Source “bad”?…. NO!

Spotted another take on the Plumpy’Nut case this week.  Readers of this blog will know we have been following this news closely over the past year. (See our posts here).  The post on AfroIP was entitled, “The Sticky Situation Surrounding Plumpy’Nut.”  The writer, Isaac Rutenberg, (Patent Agent at Bozicevic, Field & Francis LLP in San Francisco) observed:

 “The problem is that intellectual property and the implications of certain acts are often not fully understood by scientists and especially by the general public.”

Oh yes, and the need to raise awareness in general about IP issues is something we know is important.  And it’s not always easy.  A compelling 2 minute elevator pitch on IP in Ag4Dev can be challenging…  That’s why when I spot an analogy that resonates with me I take note!  And in the article about Plumpy’nut, the writer made a useful connection between Open Source, and keeping outputs available. 

“Contrary to popular belief, open source software is protected by copyright. The copyright owners (e.g., the software authors) have simply said that they are willing to grant an open license to anyone who would like to use the software, subject to some conditions. One important condition is that any advances made on the software must also become open source, so the software continues to improve but always remains freely available for use. If there was no copyright protection of the original open source software code, the open source system would not work.”

Thanks Isaac Rutenberg, well put!  It’s one of the best known examples of protection not meaning unavailable.  Of course it is not without its problems, Open Source can be very complicated when it comes to derivative works.  Nonetheless it’s a useful example — there are no silver bullets!

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One response to “Is Open Source “bad”?…. NO!

  1. Peter Bloch

    Great, Kay…I do think that Rutenberg is highly relevant, so thanks for the elevator pitch!

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