Bioperl: UCSF Discussion, Public V. Private Genome Efforts

Steven E. Brenner
Sun, 24 Jan 1999 00:11:16 -0800 (PST)


  Many good points, and just a few nits:

>   The viewpoint of the US government has been that software developed
> by the government is, for the most part, in the public domain.  
> That's why you can do pretty much whatever you want with BLAST (one of
> the informatics software you mentioned as being supported by public
> funds).  

Section 105 of the 1976 Copyright Act states:

  "Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of
  the United States Government..."

NCBI is part NLM, part of NIH, part of DHHS, part of the executive branch
of the US Government.  Thus no copyright can subsist on any work they
produce.  (Of course, this doesn't mean that they need to freely
distribute their programs.  Moreover, their code may be covered under
other intellectual property law such as patent, unfair competition, or
trade secrets.)

> If a funding agency like the NIH were to mandate the restrictions you
> proposed, NCBI could no longer take NIH money to work on BLAST because
> they are legally restricted from doing so.

I think Bobby's suggestion would only apply to grantees.  My understanding
is that NCBI receives its funding directly, not as grants, so that it
would be not be covered under this proposal.


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