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Biobazaar: The Open Source Revolution and Biotechnologyby Janet Hope
Synopses & Reviews
Fighting disease, combating hunger, preserving the balance of life on Earth: the future of biotechnological innovation may well be the future of our planet itself. And yet the vexed state of intellectual property law — a proliferation of ever more complex rights governing research and development — is complicating this future. At a similar point in the development of information technology, "open source" software revolutionized the field, simultaneously encouraging innovation and transforming markets. The question that Janet Hope explores in Biobazaar is: can the open source approach do for biotechnology what it has done for information technology? Her book is the first sustained and systematic inquiry into the application of open source principles to the life sciences.
The appeal of the open source approach — famously likened to a "bazaar," in contrast to the more traditional "cathedral" style of technology development — lies in its safeguarding of community access to proprietary tools without discouraging valuable commercial participation. Traversing disciplinary boundaries, Hope presents a careful analysis of intellectual property-related challenges confronting the biotechnology industry and then paints a detailed picture of "open source biotechnology" as a possible solution. With insights drawn from interviews with Nobel Prize-winning scientists and leaders of the free and open source software movement — as well as company executives, international policymakers, licensing experts, and industry analysts — her book suggests that open source biotechnology is both desirable and broadly feasible — and, in many ways, merely awaiting its moment.
"Australian biologist and lawyer Hope challenges the 'commercialization of life sciences research over the final quarter of the last century' in this rigorous, closely reasoned book. Referencing Thomas Kuhn's groundbreaking volume, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Hope takes a hard look at intellectual property law, which currently protects monopolistic corporations' right to inflate prices for 'life-saving drugs or life-sustaining new crops.' Sensing 'a paradigm shift in the values underpinning life sciences research,' Hope seeks to readdress these policies by applying the model of open-source software to the biotech field. She finds a keen analogy in the Microsoft-Linux conflict, which ultimately broke Microsoft's monopoly and allowed market forces to operate unhindered, ultimately lifting all ships, and devotes an entire chapter to open source licensing which would end 'proprietary exclusivity' while maintaining the principles of intellectual property (permitting use or distribution 'for free or for a fee-without having to pay royalties to the licensor'). While the plan seems a stretch-necessitating international agreement to revise existing treaties-Hope is optimistic, providing a provocative, highly intelligent and practical argument on a hot topic; though it's no easy read, policy wonks and scientists will find much to appreciate." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Can the open source approach do for biotechnology what it has done for information technology? Hope's book is the first sustained and systematic inquiry into the application of open source principles to the life sciences. Traversing disciplinary boundaries, she presents a careful analysis of intellectual property-related challenges confronting the biotechnology industry and then paints a detailed picture of "open source biotechnology" as a possible solution.
Finalist, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, Science Category
About the Author
Janet Hope has published in the fields of constitutional, criminal, administrative, environmental, human rights, intellectual property law, and biotechnology regulation. She is a member of the Australian National University Center for Governance of Knowledge and Development.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
1. An Irresistible Analogy
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Computers and Internet » Software Engineering » Open Source