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February 18, 2005

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I come from a technical background - one in which an enormous amount of the intellectual property is locked up in journals so pricey that only libraries and corporations can afford them. I'm a fan of PLoS, the Public Library of Science, a conscious effort to push more scientific intellectual property out into the useful public sphere.

Now comes ResearchChannel, streaming scientific knowledge and ideas over television (cable) and over the Web to your desktop. They are positioning themselves as "the C-SPAN of scientific and medical research." That's probably a catchy phrase but it suggests something more dull than I'm hoping they produce. In theory, scientific and technical ideas can be locked up in inventors' notebooks and then in tightly protected patents. This makes money for corporate masters, but can impoverish the inventive commons. ResearchChannel can be a testament to a philosophy that says we all get richer by encouraging the free and open flow of scientific intellectual property.

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