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tom_mai78101

Do you agree on allowing academic programming projects to be freely available to the public after it was published for 2 years?


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In my Computer Science curriculum last year, everyone is tasked to create something that has to do with programming. (Not actual rule, but you get the gist of it.) All of us must hand in the project, with research papers, for academic purposes.

 

I thought about having the research papers be accessed freely by the public for public consumption, but since I'm naïve about all of this stuff, what do the more experienced think about this? As for the 2 years period, since technology evolves at an exponential rate, it may be possible that some of the academic projects may get defunct, or that there are newer updates that improves/removes the old functions that were used during the research.

 

The poll question contains "X years", signifying that it may or may not be just 2 years. It could be 50 years for all I know. Possibly 75 years due to copyright laws, maybe even 100 years after death of the creator/bankruptcy of a company according to future laws.

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I think it should be up to the author unless it becomes a standard, then it should become open/free/cheap after x years as to stop an unfair advantage.

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IMO, it depends.

 

Paid private university: Author can choose.

Free public university: Set up an open source public licence from the start of the project.

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Free public university:

 

Heh? Where are free public universities? I'm have to assume that you are not talking about US universities.

 

But even if they are free, why shouldn't an author be allowed to choose?

 

In all cases, I think the author should be allowed to choose.

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Free public university:

 

Heh? Where are free public universities? I'm have to assume that you are not talking about US universities.

 

But even if they are free, why shouldn't an author be allowed to choose?

 

In all cases, I think the author should be allowed to choose.

 

The professors working at the tax funded(Nothing is free afterall) universities in some european countries have their salaries paid for by the tax payers, thus it is quite reasonable that their work should belong to the public.

 

Students who aren't getting paid to create the projects should own the rights to their work in all cases and private schools should, just like any other company own the work of its staff.

 

If private universities get partial public funding it might make sense to sort out some arrangement where copyright is transfered to the public after X years (depending on how much of the work is paid for by the public)

Edited by SimonForsman
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The professors working at the tax funded(Nothing is free afterall) universities in some european countries have their salaries paid for by the tax payers, thus it is quite reasonable that their work should belong to the public.

Is that the only source of income for the universities? I know a lot of public universities in the US still make a lot of money from their research and taking that away would hurt tuition a lot.
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There is a difference between the projects and published articles.

 

 

The articles students write and publish should be more accessible.  Computer Science programs are more liberal in this generally because the CS students and departments nearly always put the articles and papers on their web sites for a time.

 

The projects they create, however, are a different story.

 

Many times the projects serve as a springboard for further research. At graduate schools the projects tend to grow for many years and spawn into many future projects.

 

When I attended graduate school I was studying graphics and I was employed as by the school as a "research assistant".  Those projects belong to the school, just as my projects today belong to my employer, but they were also projects created by students for use in their courses.

 

(Strange how I still think of it as "our lab", even though I haven't been a student there for many years.)

 

Our lab had sold many of our creations.

 

The "Magnetic Lasso" in Photoshop and "Intelligent Scissors" in GIMP both came from the same family of research projects in our lab.  There is still much active work in interactive segmentation and editing.

 

Google Maps has ties to the lab's terrain research, where in 1998 we were publishing papers like "Interactive Display of Very Large Textures" that worked much like Google Maps, adding heightmap rendering but not as much as Google Earth.

 

We've had handwriting recognition techniques, "Live Surface" medical visualizations, automated generation of 3D models from photographs, and much more.

 

Many of these projects have been sold or licensed for considerable amounts of money.

 

And that is just from one lab.  The CS department has many, each one creating very useful projects by students as part of their studies.

 

 

So:

 

Papers? Yes, release them. This helps further future research and is funded by many sources.  Papers are the condensed knowledge and are very valuable to outsiders.

 

Projects? No, keep them. The implementation details are less portable than the research papers themselves, and the projects help future research at the school.

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AFAIK here in australia, copyright law is such that the institution where the work is done (whether that's your employer or your school) own the fruits of your labour. So, as it stands, the university would own your projects and be able to profit from them. Given this situation, I'd be all for the public release/sharing of university projects wink.png

Papers? Yes, release them. This helps further future research and is funded by many sources.  Papers are the condensed knowledge and are very valuable to outsiders.
Projects? No, keep them. The implementation details are less portable than the research papers themselves, and the projects help future research at the school.

I don't understand how releasing the project interferes with the school's further research at all? Worst case, no one else uses it and the school is in the exact same position. Best case, other research institutions also make use of the project and the school gains access to more use-cases, data, fixes, contributions, ideas, collaborators...
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I don't understand how releasing the project interferes with the school's further research at all?

Funding. They sell/license the research then use the money to fund more research.
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In the EU, you own what you wrote (papers or programs) except if it's contract work, which precludes a contract that either states clearly what you are to make, or a general employment as programmer or artist or such, and of course... being paid.

 

Some companies (mostly the three major US consulting companies) are trying to outmanueuver the law by making people sign work contracts that basically say they own anything you produced while employed, including what you wrote in your free time. This is of course entirely illegal, but most people accept it out of fear of losing their job and being ostracised.

 

SimonForsman's stance on public universities is ethically correct. Public universities (all materials and employees, including e.g. professors and research assistants) in the EU are paid exclusively by tax funds. Insofar it is only just and reasonable that what they produce belongs to the public. Of course, students aren't being paid, so that's a different thing.

 

In practice, it happens that university employees patent/sell their work anyway, and there exist non-profit associations which are freed from paying tax and governmentally subsided, which develop technologies using governmental funds, patent them, and enforce the patents, worldwide. Did I hear anyone cough MP3?

Also, in practice, if you write something that's outstanding, all of it belongs to your professor (even if he didn't do a thing). And you had better shut up about it, if you're interested in ever having an academic career.

Edited by samoth
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SimonForsman's stance on public universities is ethically correct. Public universities (all materials and employees, including e.g. professors and research assistants) in the EU are paid exclusively by tax funds. Insofar it is only just and reasonable that what they produce belongs to the public. Of course, students aren't being paid, so that's a different thing. 

 I might be wrong about this, as I am not an expert on the EU university system, but I find it very improbable that tax payers fully support university research.  They might support a lot of it, but it's pretty common for private industry to treat university labs as cheap ways to incubate new and risky ideas, even if it's just to groom current PhD's for future employment in their own company.  A lot of this comes in the form of joint efforts or industry grants, or even things as simple as material donations (like computers), all the way up to joint labs where a company might have a few full time workers literally physically in the university lab doing research or guiding projects.  This is especially the case in engineering feilds, like CS.

 

I know my lab had recieved upwards of 300K in hardware, along with some one-of-a-kind prototype stuff, from industry, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding that went to pay PhD student's living expenses and tuitions.  There was also a bunch from governmental sources as well.

 

Industry has to have some expectation of transparency when working with university programs, as grad students need to publish in order to develop themselves.  I can tell you for sure though that our industry partners would have been a lot more nervous about sharing their internal secrets with us if they thought we were required to release source material.  We kept secrets when it was necessary to keep our relationship intact.

 

As a small side-note, one of the worst decisions our group ever made was releasing source for an internal project.  Not only did it absolutely flood us with requests from other groups/students to provide support to whatever question they had, but we found ourselves racing against other groups to cover topics that we had already talked about, but hadn't explored yet.  Having some other group slide under you and publish what you were trying to publish, and use your own infrastructure to do it, totally sucks.

 

From a users perspective too, there is a certain advantage to limiting released projects to only those that are 'ready for prime-time'.  If your work is a hacky mess, you only would be reducing the signal/noisy ratio by releasing it.  Leaving that as a decision to be made by the group lets them do it at their own schedule.

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