Open Source Biotechnology

266 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2005

See all articles by Janet E. Hope

Janet E. Hope

Australian National University (ANU) - Centre for Governance of Knowledge and Development (CGKD)

Date Written: December 23, 2004


Dramatic recent expansion of intellectual property protection in the field of biotechnology has led to concerns that ongoing innovation will be blocked unless action is taken to preserve access to and freedom to operate with those tools that are important for further research and development. The open source approach to technology licensing, development and commercialisation evolved out of the free software movement, initiated in the early 1980s in response to restrictive copyright licensing practices adopted by commercial software developers. This approach offers a means of reconciling the public interest in broad access to software development tools with the economic self interest of intellectual property owners. Building on discussions with public and private sector industry participants, funding agencies, leaders of the free and open source software movement and scholars in a range of disciplines, this PhD thesis assesses the desirability and feasibility of extending open source principles to biotechnology research and development. It argues that open source biotechnology is both desirable and broadly feasible, and demonstrates that many of the essential elements of an embryonic open source movement are already present in this field.

Keywords: Open source, biotechnology, licensing, technology development, innovation, intellectual property, pharmaceuticals, agricultural biotechnology, patents

JEL Classification: D23, D45, K19, K21, L43, O31, O32, 033

Suggested Citation

Hope, Janet E., Open Source Biotechnology (December 23, 2004). Available at SSRN: or

Janet E. Hope (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Centre for Governance of Knowledge and Development (CGKD) ( email )

School of Social Sciences
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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