It looks like RedMonk needs a standard intellectual property rights (IPR) clause to help us when we work with larger vendors with master service agreements that over-stretch when it comes to ownership of intellectual property.
The more of these agreements I see, the better I understand the origins of the GNU Public License (GPL). The Creative Commons is another reaction to the world of over-stretch contracts. We’re in the analyst business, you see, not the negotiation and legal business.
A good partnership contract should leave something on the table- these ones don’t.
One reason IP is so important to RedMonk is that we make much of ours freely available. Open source analysis is definitely not a high margin business, although consulting pays the bills. Our blogs are not behind a firewall. We use a range of Creative Commons licenses.
But more importantly we’re at the cutting edge of the Collaborative Innovation wave. We can’t hand over rights to some of our work any more than a Linux distro could repackage as proprietary.
I hope to get to some wording that would work for free agents of all stripes, and then to publish it under a Creative Commons Public Domain Specification. Its a shame that there isn’t already a registry of free creative commons contracts to use in this way.
Unless explicitly noted in a formal Statement of Work, all work product shall be considered Background IP.
Background Intellectual Property shall mean Intellectual Property, proprietary information or confidential know-how relevant to the Project which is in the possession of a party prior to the commencement of the Project or generated after commencement of the Project but independent of the Project. Such product remains property of the vendor, including, but not limited to ideas, inventions, improvements, discoveries, software design, software coding, charts, drawings, specifications, notebooks, tracings, photographs, negatives, draft or final reports, findings, recommendations, data and memoranda.
Works published under copyright during the term of the service agreement will remain copyright of the vendor, unless explicitly agreed within a statement of work, or licensing agreement. The named vendor retains all rights to work undertaken under the term of the agreement, unless published under a community license such as the Creative Commons, in which case ownership may pass to the community (no IP of the client shall be so published without written permission.)
Anant Jhingran of IBM recently argued that business research should become more like academic research, with open data for replicability and peer review. RedMonk believes strongly in this approach. He said:
What can a company such as IBM do to advance this? What can Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP do? Thoughts?
One answer is relatively simple Anant. Firms need to go back to the source and rethink supplier and IP agreements for the age of collaborative innovation, as touted by Irving WB, in order to ensure that open collaborative IP is indeed possible.
I am going to go a little further. Firms that don’t have IP agreements in place that allow collaborative working according to the New Patronage Economy will be at a serious competitive disadvantage against others that do. You see, collaborators, and that is what we are, have a choice… be easier to work with and the smartest people will gravitate towards you. Try and try to take what is not yours, and you’ll find the well of collaborators runs dry.
disclosure: IBM is a client, but was not the subject of this blog.