Public domain question

Will the results of EteRNA be public domain?

Yes. EteRNA is created by Stanford and Carnegie Mellon Universities, both nonprofit institutions. All results from the EteRNA project will be put in the public domain and made broadly available for scientific use.

In fact, we’re developing a very cool browser which will allow scientists to browse the EteRNA results.

My experience tells me that many non-profit institutions are under assault from within by greed. If there is a general trend , it is institutions are being run for the benefit of those who work for and have power within those institutions.
For me, throwing any work product of mine generated while using eteRNA in to the public is not good enough. I would rather have “someone” retain the rights to any work product so that it might be licensed, and any profit used for further non-profit research.
Disclaimer: Thom and I know each other from and are participating in the ongoing discussion of these issues.

It would be nice to expose that information more openly at least on “About EteRNA” page (as a separate, underscored statement). This information is more important than all those “your contribution to science” slogans.

Could that browser function as subtle knowledge censoring/cash cow jstor in the end?

How do you mean?

What I mean about proposed statement or the rest?

I think goatboy is asking if you plan to put a paywall on the results browser like jstor :slight_smile: To which I would respond “if only funding science were that easy”, heheh.

alan.robot, thanks for better explaining my sufficiently emotional but deficiently articulated post :slight_smile:

I dont care about “science funding” problems in US. Taxes are record low and too much money is thrown on explosives, violence and brainwashing. So, there is money but internal consensus is obviously hijacked by “ranch owners”.

My plead is to transparently and obviously make a statement obligating project leaders not to allow usurpation and appropriation of any potential result of common effort by privileged groups such as “elite” college personnel, financiers, business opportunists and profiteers etc. I am not expecting any kind of compensation but I do expect that potential results of my labor are freely and unconditionally available to anyone, worldwide.

US is a serious country obsessed with legal contracts (for a good reason). I cant remember being offered any kind of at least pro forma agreement on terms and regulations when I joined EteRNA. Does that leave “tiny” backdoor for select few to exploit?

All I expect is obligating statement in this sense assuring all participants that their effort is truly for progress of science and actively protected from becoming just another operation of shearing gullible sheep.

Maybe I am missing the point of this whole project. It might be social dynamics/behavioral economics experiment.

Don’t worry. All results from the EteRNA project will be put in the public domain and made broadly available for scientific use.

Ok. Wouldnt it be logical now to post a variation of that statement on a place for everyone to see?
By variation, I mean something like:

“All potential results from the EteRNA project will be put in the public domain without restrictions, fees, time limits or discriminations based on college/academy affiliations or nationality.”

“Scientific use” is overly broad and calls for various manipulations and interpretations.

Thank you.

Goatboy, I’m not belittling your sentiment, I can assure you card-carrying scientists worry about this every day. As an NIH-funded scholar, I am required to take ethics classes where we examine the social consequences of modern science policy, such as the stance taken below by apple_muncy who is no doubt referring to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s litigation over stem-cell patent licensing.

Some scientists are hoarders, and some are sharers, and inconsistent science funding policies are always putting money pressure on things that ought not have anything to do with money. The best way to “size up” a scientific team’s ethos is to look at their track record, not to demand legal disclaimers that they are not really qualified (or perhaps even legally authorized) to write.

Do they publish all the details of their work so that others can reproduce it? Do they make preprints freely available to those who cannot access copyrighted journal articles? Where software is involved, is it GPL licensed? Is it even available at all? Are raw data and detailed protocols available upon request?

Lastly, to inject a bit of context, from my perspective the main products of a research project like this are 1) RNA folding algorithms 2) experience on how to manage and implement crowd-sourced scientific problem solving and 3) designed RNA sequence info.

Folding algorithms, being “abstract mental processes”, are not patentable at this time (watch the SCOTUS for future Bilski decisions). They certainly could be kept as “proprietary information”, but it would be academic suicide for a bioinformatics lab to claim they had the best folding algorithm ever and not publish enough details for the algorithm to be independently tested and verified.

I can’t comment on point 2, it being far out of my own expertise, but its worth point out that the (small) grant seeding this research is actually from the Human-Centered-Computing program of the NSF.

On to sequence info: According to the recent supreme court decision regarding Myriad Genetics and the BRCA genes, raw genetic information is not inherently patentable. One would have to demonstrate that an RNA was capable of performing a useful, non-trivial function before it would be patentable. Although this is currently far beyond the scope of the game that can only assay for base-paired vs. non-base paired, it might not always be so - if the game is wildly successful, it might progress to designs such as riboswitches and gene regulators (which would also require a very ramped-up lab component to test).

So, in my opinion, when THAT threshold is reached, when designs are actually at the point of being testable for performing biochemical functions other than geometric designs, THAT is when you want to make sure there is clarity on how the intellectual property will be treated. It’s would be such a significant transition, however, that you would be unlikely to miss it.

Lastly, federally funded science already has mandatory data-sharing provisions built in as a condition of funding. See…

Those are all great points, Alan. Thanks for putting it in context.

I thank you both very much for your attention, understanding and in Alan’s case elaborate explanation. I agree that current stage might be too early for detailed clarifications. Its also soothing to know that awareness and alertness exist among people much better informed than I am (How could I know, just throw a look at forum in which this thread only dealt ambiguously with this very important topic).
Again, I am very grateful for your kindness and understanding.

Goatboy said: “It would be nice to expose that information more openly at least on “About EteRNA” page (as a separate, underscored statement).”

I totally agree, This information is very important, I and many other players from where I come from reject scientific games which does not fulfill this criterion. Please consider again putting this info on the “about EteRNA” page, clearly visible.

Melimelodie: This is a great point. Actually, as part of a grant that we’re working on, the university is urging us to clarify this, including perhaps a “terms and conditions” which players will have to agree to.

We tried to avoid this because such terms are annoying, but don’t worry. Even if we do have “terms and conditions,” they won’t be long and obscure and tricky like many commercial sites. On the contrary, the point will be to make them short and sweet, and to clarify for everyone’s benefit, the central principle that all player designs go into the public domain and are therefore accessible to all.

Don’t worry, terms and conditions are not that much bothering and I really think detailing clearly somewhere the public domain question is a good point. It will be fine.