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Debate! Intellectual Property

>> Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finally. We have a new Debate! No wasting time. On to the topic.

Intellectual Property
This topic covers a few aspects of the issues with intellectual property so first I will try to summarize what intellectual property is. The gist of it is that anything that you create or discover— be it music, art, inventions, scientific observations in the form of a scientific paper— is your property and you hold all rights to it. These "exclusive rights" are set up to allow the property holders the rights of distribution, continuing research, use, etc. encouraging them to share their findings with the world.

How is this an issue in science?
Well, who actually holds the rights to the property can be an issue. An example of this would be if you work at "Big Conglomerate Lab" doing some type of research. While doing research, you accidentally discover something else interesting unrelated to your research. Because you work for Big Conglomo, they get to keep the rights to your research and any patents you received, even if all the research was done in your free time and unrelated to your assigned task. You can find an example of this here.

Another issue are various "anti-plaigarism" programs out there. This sounds great for protecting the rights of the original author and giving credit where credit is due, but what of the fact that these programs and sites are making money off of storing your intellectual property in a database? In this instance, the intellectuall property you have these "exclusive rights" over is being used for someone elses monetary gain. There are articles about it here, here, and here.

The Arguments
People will say that Big Conglomerate Lab has the rights to your work because you knew going in that you were actually working for their monetary gain, otherwise you would work at a small institution, writing your own grants, and doing your own research.

For anti-plaigarism, others will say that these protect the rights of the authors and students aren't really doing their own research or coming up with any new ideas so it is not their intellectual property anyway. If it was a new idea, the anti-plaigarism software isn't using the ideas behind the property, just comparing words.

So what do you think? Who has rights over your intellectual property?


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