What Is Private and What Is Public About Technology?

Science, Technology and Human Values 14 (3):229-241 (1989)
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Technology has a proprietary aspect and a public good aspect. The proprietary aspect makes it profitable for firms to invest in its advance. The public aspect enables the community as a whole to benefit from technological advance. In order for technical advance to proceed rapidly and for the gams to be widely shared, there must be an appropriate balance between the proprietary and public aspects. Recent policy discussions have emphasized the proprietary aspects of technology, calling for a tightening and broadening of intellectual property rights. Universities have been encouraged to be more proprietary. We may be in danger of leaning too far in this direction.



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