The Commonwealth Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research has released the report it commissioned by Venturous Australia on the Review of the National Innovation System. I put together a submission for OSIA arguing that open source should be given much more prominence in national innovation priorities. The report has recognised the importance of collaboration, with at least one recommendation specifically in relation to open source.
Some relevant extracts include:
Intellectual property is also critical to the creation and successful use of new knowledge – particularly the ‘cumulative’ use of knowledge as an input to further, better knowledge. In this regard, particularly in new areas of patenting such as software and business methods, there is strong evidence that existing intellectual property arrangements are hampering innovation. To address this, the central design aspects of all intellectual property needs to be managed as an aspect of economic policy. Arguably, the current threshold of inventiveness for existing patents is also too low. The inventive steps required to qualify for patents should be considerable, and the resulting patents must be well defined, so as to minimise litigation and maximise the scope for subsequent innovators.
at page xii, recurring in recommendation 7.2
On the other hand, there is one area in which it is clear that there will be substantial spillovers from software development. Where firms develop open source software and donate the code from their development back to the open source project, this will generate clear spillovers for the rest of the community which will be able to access their developments. It is hard to think of a more straightforward case for government support. The Panel accordingly recommends that R&D on open source programs should qualify for the multiple sale test. Given the pervasiveness of positive spillovers, it may also be cost beneficial to relax somewhat the degree of technical risk required in relation to open source software.
(at page 109, see also recommendation 8.7)
Professional practitioners and beneficiaries of the IP system should be closely involved in IP policy making. However, IP policy is economic policy. It should make the same transition as competition policy did in the 1980s and 90s to being managed as such.
Australian governments should open publishing as far as possible. Material released for public information by Australian governments a creative commons licence.
To the maximum extent practicable, information, research and content funded by Australian governments – including national collections – should be made freely available over the internet as part of the global public commons. This should be done whilst the Australian Government encourages other countries to reciprocate by making their own contributions to the global digital pubic commons.
(Recommendations 7.3, 7.8 and 7.14)