Missing Mobilization

The Conservative government unveiled its science and technology strategy [pdf] titled Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage on Thursday in Waterloo, Ontario.  The lengthy document represents a missed opportunity for open access as the strategy raises issues that are directly relevant but fails to take the plunge.  For example, it emphasizes enhanced accountability and responsiveness of the three federal granting councils, yet focuses on internal management issues, rather than on research dissemination. The strategy also includes increased efforts to transfer technology from Canadian universities to the private sector.  Once again, there is an opportunity to consider open access approaches, however, the strategy instead commits to a review that "will include an assessment of whether a new approach to intellectual property management of university research is warranted." While neither of these statements preclude open access, a more explicit commitment would have given the issue some real momentum.

It is also worth noting that patent and copyright reform receive attention, with the government focusing on the need for a modern IP regime that balances incentives with access:
Canada is committed to maintaining a balanced patent regime that provides appropriate incentives for innovation while respecting Canadians' values and ensuring that they have access to the latest scientific information and technologies. Similarly, Canada is committed to ensuring that its copyright framework provides the legal protection necessary to give copyright-based industries the confidence to invest in and roll out new business models that make full use of leading-edge technologies, while promoting the use of these technologies by researchers to gain access to the knowledge and information needed for innovation and competitiveness.

One Comment

  1. Martin Laplante says:

    Government First
    It seems to me that the government could lead by example, by waiving the bulk of its own intellectual property so that it can be made more productive. The Feds are always trying to commercialize their patents and data, but they could have a much greater impact by allowing them to be used freely, more like what the U.S. government does. They could also give preferential treatment in contracts and grants to those who waive certain IP rights. There is a lot to be said for the benefits of reduced protection, and the open source movement is one example of this.

    It would also be nice for patents to be more like copyright, where some but not all rights can be waived. Without renegotiating international treaties, maybe we could introduce something like a voluntary version of compulsory licensing in exchange for reduced patent fees, or some other way to get a middle ground between all rights and none.