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Seven universities, four corporations, and one foundation announced a breakthrough plan yesterday "to accelerate collaborative research for open source software". From the press release (December 19):
Specifically, the companies and universities agreed:  That intellectual property arising from selected research collaborations will be made available free of charge for commercial and academic use.  To an established set of guidelines that address the rights of the participants and the public. These twelve enterprises believe the principles will accelerate innovation and contribute to open source software research across a breadth of initiatives, thus enabling the development of related industry standards and greater interoperability, while managing intellectual property in a more balanced manner....Pervasive acceptance of the open collaboration principles by other universities and the IT industry, as well as the development of guiding principles for other research agreements remains at the core of the Summit team's continuing agenda. The goal is to shorten the time from the first spark, or idea, to the commencement of research on that idea. Summit participants developing and adopting these principles include the Kauffman Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University (Penn.), Georgia Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (N.Y.), Stanford University (Calif.), University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, The University of Texas at Austin, Cisco, HP, IBM and Intel. Additional collaborators include the National Science Foundation, the Office of U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman and the National Academies' Government University Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR).
Comment. This is about open-source software, not open-access to research literature or data. But there are so many principles common to the two that the universities in the OS pact should be ready to adopt similar policies on OA, such as requiring or encouraging their faculty to deposit postprints of their published journal articles in an OA institutional repository.
Update. Here's a nice nugget from Steve Lohr's story about the agreement in yesterday's New York Times.
"This a great start to addressing the problem," said Peter A. Freeman, assistant director for computer and information science and engineering at the National Science Foundation. "It's a recognition by both sides that for precompetitive research, 'It's the science, stupid.' It's not the intellectual property."