Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Bill Gates has shown real leadership"

David Bollier, Is Hell Freezing Over? Bill Gates Embraces the Knowledge Commons, On the Commons, July 21, 2006. Excerpt:
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 competitive and innovation – is now recognizing the virtues of the knowledge commons…. for AIDS research, at least....

One is tempted to snort at the hypocrisy that Gates has not applied the commons analysis to the development of Windows and other Microsoft products, whose proprietary code continues to thwart innovation and competition around the world. But let us be gracious. There will be time enough to learn how Gates squares the IP positions of his foundation and those of Microsoft. Indeed, given the company's recent agreement to include a new feature in Word that makes it easy to use Creative Commonslicenses in text documents, change may be afoot.

In the meantime, in the interest of finding an AIDS vaccine, Bill Gates has shown real leadership. His foundation is willing to acknowledge a truth that most other IP ideologues staunchly refuse to admit – that an open knowledge commons can be profoundly generative and innovative, and should therefore be actively promoted. Promising research results are now likely to arrive much sooner than otherwise.