Who owns our knowledge?

Technology and science is changing faster than ever. One example is that former grand newspapers now struggle to survive and are forced to explore new alleys for getting funds and cut expenses. One development is that publicly paid researchers to an increasing extent help time-pressured journalists out with producing content to the newspapers. A positive consequence is that scientists are becoming increasingly involved in science communication. However, a surprising new negative consequence seems to be that some newspapers – fixated on new alleys for making profit in the age of the Internet – have chosen to argue that they can permanently own the product of our knowledge and help beyond the “novelty value”… the latest development is a Danish newspaper suing scientists for sharing our common knowledge.

The newspaper in question has successfully sued a professor for making a pdf-file of an interview and a book* review accessible on his website. Mind you, it was a review of a book he co-authored, and the interview contained his quotes – and he even helped the journalist write it, by fact-checking the formulations and quotations. The unfortunate professor – that acted in good faith and complying to an official rule stating that university based researchers have a duty to communicate their research – happens to be the leader of the ISSP focus group ‘Social Software’, Professor Vincent F. Hendricks. This peculiar case raises the question – who owns the knowledge financed by society and provided by scientists?

Perhaps it is time to reconsider the heavy public media-subsidies given in the name of public service, or at least to agree that scientist have at least shared property rights to the work they participate in.

To read more about this absurd case see Maja Horst’s and Julie Sommerlund’s chronicle publicized in Danish newspaper Weekendavisen, August 23rd 2013 (pdf attached)
Claus Emmeche’s piece in videnskab.dk (“science.dk”) – in Danish


* Vincent F. Hendricks & Jan Lundorff Rasmussen: NEDTUR! Finanskrisen forstået filosofisk, København, Gyldendal Business, maj 2012, ISBN 978-87-02-12873-4

For the sake of good order, we inquired into the rules of re-publicizing the Horst & Sommerlund chronicle that appeared in Danish newspaper Weekendavisen, August 23rd 2013. Since it is a chronicle, only permission from the authors were needed for redistributing the content.

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