Biobazaar: The Open Source Revolution and Biotechnology

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9780674026353: Biobazaar: The Open Source Revolution and Biotechnology

Fighting disease, combating hunger, preserving the balance of life on Earth: the future of biotechnological innovation may well be the future of our planet itself. And yet the vexed state of intellectual property law--a proliferation of ever more complex rights governing research and development--is complicating this future. At a similar point in the development of information technology, "open source" software revolutionized the field, simultaneously encouraging innovation and transforming markets. The question that Janet Hope explores in Biobazaar is: can the open source approach do for biotechnology what it has done for information technology? Her book is the first sustained and systematic inquiry into the application of open source principles to the life sciences.

The appeal of the open source approach--famously likened to a "bazaar," in contrast to the more traditional "cathedral" style of technology development--lies in its safeguarding of community access to proprietary tools without discouraging valuable commercial participation. Traversing disciplinary boundaries, Hope presents a careful analysis of intellectual property-related challenges confronting the biotechnology industry and then paints a detailed picture of "open source biotechnology" as a possible solution. With insights drawn from interviews with Nobel Prize-winning scientists and leaders of the free and open source software movement--as well as company executives, international policymakers, licensing experts, and industry analysts--her book suggests that open source biotechnology is both desirable and broadly feasible--and, in many ways, merely awaiting its moment.

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About the Author:

?Janet Hope has published in the fields of constitutional, criminal, administrative, environmental, human rights, intellectual property law, and biotechnology regulation. She is a member of the Australian National University’s Center for Governance of Knowledge and Development.

Review:

Biobazaar is the first book dedicated to studying current efforts at open biological innovation. It is a well-researched and thoughtful analysis of the great potential that such innovation holds for improving the ways we address some of our most basic human needs. (Yochai Benkler, author of the Wealth of Networks)

Can an open-source-style economy in life sciences change the landscape of innovation, and for the better? Hope provides a much-needed, reasoned guide to thinking through that critical question. (Steven Weber, author of The Success of Open Source)

Life Sciences are set to become the driver of 21st century economic and national competitiveness, much as Information technology was at the end of the 20th century. Janet Hope's Biobazaar: The Open Source Revolution and Biotechnology takes on a fundamental question that will determine where innovation happens in biotechnology: Who owns what pieces of intellectual property in this system, and what can they do with what they own? Her thoughtful and non-ideological assessment of the problem leads to a powerful analogy with software and the open source model for producing complex knowledge goods. Can an open source style economy in life sciences change the landscape of innovation, and for the better? Hope provides a much-needed, reasoned guide to thinking through that critical question. (Steven Weber, author of The Success of Open Source)

Are we on the verge of an open source revolution? If not a revolution, surely a growing rebellion. Hope gives us food for thought on the possibilities. (James Love New Scientist 2008-01-26)

[A] rigorous, closely reasoned book. Referencing Thomas Kuhn's groundbreaking volume, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Hope takes a hard look at intellectual property law, which currently protects monopolistic corporations' right to inflate prices for "life-saving drugs or life-sustaining new crops." Sensing "a paradigm shift in the values underpinning life sciences research," Hope seeks to readdress these policies by applying the model of open-source software to the biotech field. (Publishers Weekly 2008-01-21)

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