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U.S. advised to promote open standards, source, innovation

Apr 17, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

A business- and university-led public policy group has issued a downloadable 72-page report examining open standards, open source software, and “open innovation.” The report concludes that openness should be promoted as a matter of public policy, in order to foster innovation and economic growth in the U.S. and world economies.

The report was released by the Committee for Economic Development (CED), a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research organization comprised of about 200 senior corporate executives and university leaders. The report resulted from a project within CED's Digital Connections Council (DCC), which is chaired by Paul M. Horn, SVP of research at IBM. The project was directed by Elliot Maxwell, described as “a key advisor on digital economy issues in the Clinton Administration.”

The CED report concludes that intellectual property (IP) law and business practices designed for the trade of physical goods threaten economic development and innovation in digital information product markets such as software. It recommends several specific steps aimed at helping public policy makers promote openness, innovation, and economic growth:

  • Open Standards
    • Governments should “encourage the development and use of open standards, through processes as open to participation and contribution as possible”
    • The results of government-supported research should be readily available for inclusion in open standards
    • Governments should create incentives for early disclosure of intellectual property rights affecting open standards, because historically, companies have waited, in order to maximize damage claims

  • Open Source Software
    • Governments should not mandate any particular license, such as requiring open source software only; however…
      • No citizen should be required to use the hardware or software of any particular vendor
      • International procurements should also supprt inter-operability requirements

  • Open Innovation (such as 'peer production' systems like WikiPedia and eBay user ratings)
    • To foster open innovation, federally funded, non-classified research should be widely disseminated, following the example of the NIH (National Institute of Health)
    • “Any legislation or regulation regarding intellectual property rights [should be] weighed with a presumption against the granting of new rights … because of the benefits to society of further innovation through greater access to technology.”
    • The NSF (National Science Foundation) should fund research into “alternative compensation methods, similar to those created to facilitate the growth of radio, to reward creators of digital information products”

The full 72-page CED report is available for download, here (PDF download). A brief summary, on which this story was largely based, is also available, here.

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