I have finished reading a report by the Committee for Economic Development, which has membership from representatives from IBM, GE and Citigroup (not precisely a group of leftie pinko liberals). Their report is entitled Open Standards, Open Source, and Open Innovation: Harnessing the Benefits of Openness. The report is considerably in favour of open standards in the information and communication technology field. They point out that open standards have proven themselves, with the largest and most important example being the Internet. “Closed” proprietary standards benefit a few and increase costs of entry into the market. The report is also in favour of open source software.
To me the most interesting concept is that of open innovation. This is not only software, but any sort of innovative process that operates by peer-development and online non-proprietary collaboration. The vast range of resources available online, be it Wikipedia, open access, open science, open courseware, provide a new collaborative environment that fosters innovation. The report recommends that such efforts should be publicly funded, but more importantly, they call for a limit to stronger IP protection. They say that “…the Council recommends that any legislation or regulation regarding intellectual property rights be weighed with a presumption against the granting of new rights. The burden of proof should be on proponents of new rights to demonstrate with rigorous analysis the necessity of such an extension, because of the benefits to society of further innovation through greater access to technology.”