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Thread: Clarification on results publishing?

  1. #1

    Clarification on results publishing?


    Over on k5 (, where Digital Parasite got a news post put up, a question about the 'ownership' of the results from the Distributed Folding project was raised.

    I have read the FAQ question pertaining to this, but so had the person asking the question. I also understand that the likelihood of any specific discoveries having a large and concrete monetary value are small. However, with new people evaluating this project, these types of questions are going to be raised more frequently, both by people who think they are smart and by average computer users who do not pretend to understand the science involved or even the legal issues involved, but want reassurance that they are "helping humanity" or "helping science."

    So, can we get a more clear FAQ entry or atleast a more concrete and fleshed out stance on this? Here is the specific snippet:

    In any event Mt. Sinai Hospital will own any new intellectual property associated with the resulting data, and will make any such discoveries available to the public, at no cost, sometime after their initial research is completed.
    Now that I re-read it and post it, it seems a bit clearer, but since I typed all this up I will still ask for clarification.

    The way that I interpret the section in the FAQ on this issue is that you WILL publish the results, but it will be after you publish the relevant scientific papers/studies and obviously, as time permits. The final part (as quoted above) leads me to believe that Mt. Sinai Hospital will patent or copyright or otherwise "protect" the results (as is only prudent, IMO, sucks getting sued for using your own research) and then will release the results in a timeframe and fashion that is in line with what is standard amongst academic institutions.


  2. #2
    I'm not speaking for any entity - just as someone that's done a LOT of IP work...

    If the results are published prior to the IP protection without appropriate non-disclosure in place, then the work becomes unprotectable. That's referred to as Prior Art or the Process of Display.

    They may own the work but if they publish prior to protecting their priority dates, they lose all priority.

    I'm operating under the assumption that anything I contribute to the project will be done with as the Regents of Mt. Sinai and their Board see fit. That it is a gift of services rendered with no potential return to me, and no possibility of practical return.

    I think the faq is pretty clear on that. I'd be willing to bet my last dollar that any international court would read that as appropriate disclosure and with the intent being as I wrote above... YMMV

  3. #3
    Thanks. As I said, the concern isn't really mine, just relaying it.

    The issue of them making riches and participants getting nothing isn't really the primary concern, from what I have seen, either. It is more a matter of them sitting on information would could benefit a lot of people, i.e. like the drug companies.

    Also, as I said, it is insane to NOT apply for the proper protections before publishing, getting sued for infringement on something you discovered is entirely plausible in the ridiculous court systems currently in place.

  4. #4
    Junior Member iainmcgin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    The main reason I joined this project (and advocated it to my friends) is that Mt. Sinai do not seem intent on using whatever valuable information is derived from this project for capitalistic gain.

    I object to people making money out of other people's misfortune (through illness or otherwise) and so I made a moral choice to support this project over some of the other bio-informatics projects (where I remember reading something stating in convoluted words "we're going to patent anything we find and make a bucketload of cash and you won't see a penny,thanks").

    I'm probably in the minority here however, most of you are probably quite comfortable with the medical "industry" making you pay rediculous sums of money for medical treatment. I not so long ago suffered from a very rare (medical journal material) auto-immune disorder; had I not been living in the UK I probably would have bankrupted my parents just to keep me alive.

    I'm ranting, so I'll stop

    University of Glasgow

  5. #5
    I cannot tell you anything for certain, but from what I understand, any intellectual property generated by this project is the property of Mount Sinai Hospital. While there may possibly be some profit involved, the Hospital is itself a not-for-profit organization meaning that any proceeds would be reinvested into more research (to our projects and others in the institute).

    Users will not be reimbursed in any way for their time of course (hence Intel's term 'philanthropic' computing), other than the personal satisfaction of having helped make great discoveries and helped science progress (and getting your name in the stats pages!).

    Any discoveries made will be published in scientific journals, and may indeed be patented as well if appropriate (before publication as Jodie pointed out). But the act of publishing our findings to the scientific community effectively makes the knowledge we discover public domain.

    Parts of our source code are open source, but other parts are not. We may possibly release parts of the screensaver and client code (minus the actual folding algorithm) in the future but for now those will remain closed source.
    Howard Feldman

  6. #6
    Thanks for the reply Howard.

    Pretty nitpicky stuff, but when people ask me about it I prefer to have a more informed and accurate response ready than to wing it.

    I read (well, ok, read parts, skimmed others) the MoBiDiCk .pdf linked to on the About section of the DF web page. Interesting stuff. I definitely recommend it to any of you who are computer scientists and want to see some pretty technical (but interesting) details of a distributed computing platform.

    The BIND site was interesting as well. Not a lot content that I could understand, but it appears the database is growing and there are quite a few entries already.

    Fun stuff, when it isn't de-focusing my eyes and giving me the equivalent of an "ice cream headache."

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