open-source software for bioinformatics (was Re: Unix vs Linux - the movie.)

Don Gilbert gilbertd at
Thu Jul 27 17:18:19 EST 2000

Most of the software that I've written and provided
to biologists freely has never been funded by any goverment
grant or agency. In cases of no or partial public funding
for software development, which I think are far more common
than most non-developers realize, those with the
feeling that all software should be open-source
make it hard on the developers who need some kind of income
from their work.  If we start seeing more funding of
software development in biosciences, I'd be happy to argue
that more of it put into the public domain. 

But software isn't sequence data, each code word is the
product of a single creative intelligence, rather than blind
nature.  We in our society have often tried to encourage
that kind of work, even to the extent of offering people
public support and allow them later to copyright and sell
this work.  I think it is appropriate for software authors
to retain copyright control over work that has received
public funding.   How many scientists who write books
while on grant funding turn their royalties over to the

-- Don

In article <u9r98fclvn.fsf at>,
Sean Eddy <eddy at> wrote:
>In article <398069d7$1 at> karplus at (Kevin Karplus) writes:
>  >I'm generally in favor of having source code available for any
>  >software I buy or use, but reluctant to part with source code that I
>  >have spent years working on.  
>Kevin, why should your source code be treated as a different kind of
>scientific information than a genome center's DNA sequence, or a
>crystallographer's coordinates?
-- d.gilbert--bioinformatics--indiana-u--bloomington-in-47405
-- gilbertd at

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