Foundation views wrongly characterized in Genome Technology

In the March 2003 issue of Genome Technology, “Opposite Strand” contributor Gerald Barnett’s insightful article on “free choice for open source” is blighted by a gross misattribution. He writes that Open Bioinformatics Foundation has proposed that “all federally funded bioinformatics software should be released as open source.” In fact, the O|B|F has explicitly rejected this extreme and inflexible view, as specified in our January 2002 statement on public funding & open source, which states:

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“The Open Bioinformatics Foundation believes that scientific software
developed with public support should be distributed under terms analogous
to those applied to biological materials. In common with treatment of
reagents under the UBMTA and good practice, we believe that the essential
source code necessary for reproducing published results should be made
readily available for non-commercial research use.

“While acknowledging that open source licenses may not be optimal in every
instance, we believe that development and release of software under open
source licenses is often beneficial and efficient in creating valuable
scientific software, and in encouraging its widespread use and most
successful exploitation.

“We view researchers as the individuals most capable of determining if
their software will be developed and exploited in an optimal manner under
an open source license, and we therefore encourage institutions to
delegate to their scientists the opportunity to select non-restrictive and
open source licenses for their software.”
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We believe that Gerald has confused the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (http://open-bio.org) with the efforts of a similar sounding group located at http://www.openinformatics.org/

The O|B|F Board is preparing a response that will be sent to the magazine.

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