I will support the creation of a Federally hosted repository to bring together intellectual products for public domain and free license use by the entire global community. The notion here is to complement proprietary intellectual property institutions such as copyright and patents by providing an alternative for those who want to contribute intellectual advances to the entire global community. The repository would be completely voluntary, though also supplemented by Federal bureau for intellectual production as directed by Congress. All contributions to the repository would be entered into the public domain, though every contributor would be free to decide which of their intellectual property to contribute to the repository and which to maintain under patent and copyright protections.

The motivation behind this repository is that the intellectual property in the public domain serves as an important foundation of our public infrastructure which brings greater productivity in every sphere of our productive lives. For example, algorithms such as the distance formulae contributed to the public domain by Pythagorus, the Lorenz transformations contributed to the public domain by Einstein and many other public domain algorithms were indispensable in creating the global positioning system. While such examples have long been in the public domain and patents and copyright have limited time before expiration, there are many advances in human productivity which remain out of widespread reach because of our over reliance on strictly proprietary intellectual production mechanisms. The Federal government, state governments, public education, and higher learning also already engage in extensive intellectual production with valuable productive capacities but often with no place to deposit the fruits of its endeavors. In addition, many individuals and communities respond better to shared social benefit inducements than to personal reward so such a repository organized by government provides an outlet for their intellectual products.

On the other hand, the gaming of intellectual property protection is also a mechanism for carving out monopoly abuses as private for-profit monopolists utilize trivial new patents to shelter long expired patented advances. By opening up crucial intellectual advances to the public domain we can actually fuel more rapid intellectual advances building on that crucial foundation. Our current over-reliance on only proprietary intellectual innovations places a heavy burden on our productive capacities and leads to repeated re-invention of the wheel in one productive enterprise after another. While each individual enterprise still benefits from the retarded pace of advances, our nation in general suffers from the slowed pace of innovation and the duplication of resources to the same intellectual task over and over again.

Moreover, this Intellectual Product Repository would serve as central repository, organizer and motivator for practical production oriented educational programs in secondary schools and higher education institutions so that teachers, professors, and students can tackle manageable subsets of projects in the repository contribute to the repository. For example, a computer programming course at a high school might consider what valuable resource they might add to the repository and over the course of a semester bring that project to fruition. Or in college, a computer science course might assign students to pick component from the repository and re-factor portions to make it more versatile and reusable. Whether in secondary schools or higher education, students could be encouraged to help develop or improve educational materials for the repository based on their own recent experience and difficulties with learning about a particular topic.

The repository would draw on existing document formats and repository protocols and tailor those formats and protocols to the specific needs of the various category of intellectual products – thus providing public domain protocols and formats for free use by other national, community, and proprietary repositories.

Another check on monopoly power

Monopoly power is a threat to our economy and to our Constitutional republic. Elsewhere I have described my policy prescriptions for separating all natural monopolies from other economic sectors and operating those as public, transparent, bureaus with equitable access to all and strict democratic oversight. In so doing we remove a major source of monopoly power as private for-profit corporations use their control over natural monopoly industries to carve out monopolies in other areas that otherwise exhibit no monopoly tendencies whatsoever. My view is that by targeting only natural monopoly industries we eliminate much of the need for cumbersome and bureaucracy-bloating anti-trust regulation. Intellectual property is another area related to natural monopoly and here I propose this intellectual product repository to address this other area contributing to inappropriate monopoly power. While this repository is voluntary, the open source community has already shown the power of such voluntary cooperation in intellectual projects.

My conviction is that we will all be astounded with the benefits this repository brings to the United States and the World. When intellectual products – a resource which is not depleted when used – become available freely to all, it accelerates the development of commerce and industry. The benefits also accrue much more quickly whereas intellectual products held privately and for-profit accrue only to their owners who cannot possibly comprehend the entire utility of their intellectual products. When these intellectual products can be shared, reviewed, modified, and improved the pace of development grows as well. So it is not just a matter of sharing the benefits now held privately with the entire public, but unleashing benefits we will never enjoy without such free and open access.

Repository Categories

Some of the proposed repository categories include:

  • The US Patent Office would serve as the foundation of the federal intellectual product repository by including all expired and denied patent applications within the repository.
  • Operating System: kernel, kernel extension architecture, tools and libraries, Windowing server, 2-D rendering engine, 3-D rendering engine, security library, directory schema abstracted directory library. The result of this project would be a complete array of interchangeable parts that relied on Posix-like/Unix-like standards and other standards to allow easy reuse of any portion of the repository. Such a repository allows an eased development of software capable of running cross-platform with reduced vendor lock-in. Much of this category could be seeded with work from FreeBSD and OpenBSD projects and slowly migrated to full public domain products if appropriate.
  • Rich Object-oriented frameworks maintained to operate on a variety of OS kernels and supporting a large variety of languages such as Java, C++, C#, Objective-C, Ruby, Python, etc. providing collection classes, strings, numbers, dates, data, glyphs, models, persistent stores, fonts, bezier curves, views, controllers, etc. This project too can be seeded with existing open source projects such as the Java frameworks, the Cocatron frameworks, Wine and migrated if necessary to full public domain products.
  • PNC (personal numeric control) specification, hardware reference platform, and software library which could come from a broadening of a program started within the National Institute for Standards and Testing (NIST). This would include control hardware platform for smart grid, smart home and other energy efficiency and other electronic appliance controls.
  • Educational materials including: Electronic Books, VIsual Presentations, Documentaries, PNC (personal numeric control) files (revolutionizing home economics education and industrial arts education both), etc. The electronic books could be seeded with digitized versions of all public domain volumes in the Library of Congress. Combining canonical volumes with expired copyrights with modern public domain contributions from teachers, parents, students, and academics and other educators we could drastically increase the availability of suitable educational materials while reducing the cost of educational materials and also providing an abundance of valuable materials to augment the work of teachers. The Federal Bureau of Intellectual Production and the Department of Education could also provide minimal staff and contractor contributions to fill in gaps, provide exploratory visualizations, illustrations, and otherwise draw together existing public domain multimedia educational materials where ever useful and compelling.
  • Voter Registration and Election Balloting system, software library, software reference specification, and hardware reference platform
  • Electronic Money and Asset Management Description Framework specification and software library
  • Commercial Product and Agreement Description Framework specification and software Library
  • Pharmaceutical formulae
  • General chemical formulae
  • Clothing and other textile product patterns and related PNC files
  • Furniture and housewares designs and related PNC files
  • Food recipes

Federal bureau for intellectual production

A new bureau would be created to oversee the repository and even contract with and employee engineers, authors, editors, designers, culinary experts and others to round-out independent submissions.

For corporations using intellectual property to achieve market domination and also engaging in predatory pricing – undermining competitive markets – I would support tort legislation which allowed courts to order the transfer of proprietary intellectual products into the public domain and into the Federal repository as a judicial remedy, where suitable.

A significant motivation here is that abuse of intellectual property rights can be used to carve out monopolies in non-natural monopoly industries. While I think such monopolies in new and peripheral areas should be allowed through patents since it encourages innovation in diverse areas of intellectual production, we also need a complementary function in this Federal intellectual product repository especially in areas of core intellectual products such as operating systems, pharmaceutical drugs and so forth. Once patents have expired or for those wishing to contribute intellectual products without patent and without copyright (or with lenient licensing), many intellectual products become central to our economy and contribute immensely to labor productivity. Therefore we need to foster this sort of shared intellectual products.

Another motivation for the repository is that the Federal government already sponsors and subsidizes a tremendous amount of scientific and engineering research in higher education and in dedicated research centers. Today we have no public steward to ensure the public’s interest in these intellectual products is not relinquished to savvy private interests who then patent the publicly funded intellectual product and use it for their own monopoly power.

Finally, providing some small role for publicly funded intellectual product development offers a valuable complement to the methods of intellectual product development in the private sector. Whereas private industry often supports an impressive pace of intellectual innovation, such innovation must almost necessarily focus on the immediate revenue needs of the private enterprise. Innovation workers who work for private enterprise understand that they must meet deadlines and cut corners where necessary in crafting new intellectual products to make sure they do not undermine the bottom line. However, such corner cutting builds up and each independent decision to cut corners ends up causing innovation difficulties down the road. A bureau of intellectual production would have the luxury to do things the right way: creating opportunities for innovation workers working for the bureau to do things the right way and not merely the fast way. And doing things the right way then facilitates easier innovation in the future as intellectual products get reused and form the foundation for further innovation.

Some may worry that Federal involvement in intellectual production will interfere with localized, community, and corporate innovations as the Federal repository renders intellectual products unprofitable by offering them for use for free. However, the repository would merely lead to a shift in the localized innovation as innovators adjusted to the new paradigm and focussed on adding new-value to the existing base of innovation. This then quickens the pace of innovation and avoids the constant reinventing of the wheel which takes place with a strictly proprietary intellectual product system.

Open Source Licensing of my campaign platform

Incidentally, the contents of these Key Issues pages are available under an Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License as my contribution to public debate and the stagnant intellectual property development that has occurred in that debate over the last many decades. If you use my work in its original form please provide attribution to this campaign website. If you derive your own work from this work, then you may provide attribution as you see fit at your own discretion.