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Sci Eng Ethics. 2003 Jul;9(3):425-34.

Shackling the shoulders of giants. A report on excerpts from the National Academies' Symposium on the Role of Scientific and Technical Data and Information in the Public Domain, Washington, DC, September 5-6, 2002.

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This paper informally summarizes a two-day symposium held at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., September 5-6, 2002. The issue was to what extent the progress of science and societal capacity for continued technological innovation are threatened by excessive protection of intellectual property. Excessive protection creates disadvantages not only for scientists and inventors but also for educators/students and for librarians/clientele. Speakers from a variety of disciplines and institutions agreed unanimously that scientific and technological progress is, indeed, under serious threat. Various opinions were expressed about the degree of threat, currently and prospectively, as well as what counter-measures are best suited to resist undue restrictions on creative uses of scientific and technical data and information. This summary is based entirely on the author's notes from the symposium, and the commentary offered is his alone. My apologies to the speakers if this paper does not accurately reflect the primary intent of their presentations. The "Suggested Readings" offered at the end are not specific to the speakers' statements but rather are offered as a general resource to aid further research. The definitive record of the symposium is planned to be available from the National Academies Press as a Proceedings publication in the summer of 2003.

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