15 April 2011

Brain Institute's Clever Move

One of the more unexpected interests of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is the Allen Human Brain Atlas:

Using an innovative approach to human brain mapping, the Allen Institute is developing a one-of-a-kind resource for understanding genes at work in the human brain. Launched in May 2010, the ALLEN Human Brain Atlas is expected to provide insights that propel researchers to understand and discover new treatments for a variety of brain diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, schizophrenia and drug addiction.

To its credit, it has adopted a reasonably liberal licence:

You may use, copy, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display or create derivative works of the Materials for research or noncommercial educational purposes or for your own personal noncommercial purposes.

Interestingly, it has this rider:

Freedom to Innovate and Rights to Improvements

You may, and are encouraged to, develop new methods, applications, interfaces or other inventions or works that improve the use of, and build upon, the Materials (collectively, “Improvements”). In order to make the Materials available to you and others in the research community, however, the Allen Institute must preserve its freedom to innovate. If you develop an Improvement based on or utilizing the Materials, and you obtain any proprietary rights in or to that Improvement, you and your successors or assigns agree not to assert such proprietary rights against the Allen Institute or its successors or assigns for its or their use of any Improvement independently developed by or on behalf of the Allen Institute that might otherwise infringe such proprietary rights. Additionally, the Allen Institute retains its rights, title and interest in any Materials that are part of or are used by you to create an Improvement.

That's a clear recognition of the fact that "proprietary rights" like patents cut across the "freedom to innovate". It's a pity that the Allen Institute didn't go further, and insist that all improvements be made freely available to everyone, but it's a start.

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FleaStiff said...

>A good start...
One oft-accessed CAT scan imagebage is that of a convicted murderer.

Most studies of synovial fluid are of the knee and the overwhelming majority of those are of diseased rather than healthy knees.

Medicine often gets off to a less than optimal start. Its the same with medical image licensing.

Glyn Moody said...

@FleaStiff: indeed...