David Bollier writes insightfully about the Gates Foundation‘s frustration with the ways that secrecy and competition is slowing down AIDS research. In an article titled “Is Hell Freezing Over? Bill Gates Embrasses the Knowledge Commons” Bollier begins:
The only story more newsworthy than “man bites dog” has got to be “Bill Gates champions open sharing and collaboration.” Yes, the high priest of proprietary software – whose company has ruthlessly used its copyrights and patents to stifle competition and innovation – is now recognizing the virtues of the knowledge commons…. for AIDS research, at least.
Yesterday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would require that any researcher who get its grant monies for HIV/AIDS research will have to agree to share their scientific findings. The Gate Foundation was apparently frustrated that two decades of secrecy and competition among AIDS researchers have impeded efforts to come up with an AIDS vaccine. Scientists often decline to share their research because they are trying to obtain patents, withhold data until it is published, or simply protect their institutional turf.