open-source software for bioinformatics

Korbinian Strimmer strimmer at ermine.ox.ac.uk
Wed Aug 9 15:21:33 EST 2000


On Wed, 9 Aug 2000, Richard P. Grant wrote:

> 
> > It my certainly be tempting to develop software using public money, then
> > issue free "academic licenses"  and additionally *sell* the very same
> > software for commercial purposes.  I think that is only justified if the
> > software was developed using private money (or, alternatively, if the
> > royalties would directly go back to the grant agencies).
> 
> difficult that.
> 
> I don't see why tools (such as software) made in such an institution 
> should not be used to raise money for the place that made it.  Money for 
> the (primary?) author is more difficult (she was only doing her job, 
> after all) but by analogy with patents then some pecuniary reward for 
> bringing resources into the place would possibly not be out of place.

I completely agree - but the money should definitely go back to the
place where the software was developed (no doubt that the authors
should get some premium as well).

What I find *much* more problematic is to first develop tools, databases,
software etc. under academic conditions (public funding, low salaries,
people willing to work hard for getting a PhD etc.), and to sell exactly
these things, maybe slightly modified, later as commercial products of a
company *privately* held  by members of the research group.

I think this is what happens a lot these days (at least in Germany) 
In my humble and certainly restricted view, it contradicts completely the
scientific ethos of free exchange of ideas (and software), and in the long
run it does no good to the discipline (of bioinformatics) as a whole.

  Korbinian







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