The genesis of the Society for Knowledge Commons lies in an attempt by concerned groups of scientists and technologists, researchers, and activists to leverage the tremendous potential of the Collaborative Innovation model that has lead to the growth of the Free and Open Source Software community (FOSS) around the world. Knowledge Commons aims to harness the FOSS model based on collaboration, community and the shared ownership of knowledge to address challenges faced by India in areas like education, the sciences and the arts, e-governance and other areas that impact our digital knowledge society.
- The Society for Knowledge Commons, through its activities, addresses the following concerns:
- The role of scientific and technical knowledge in the country’s development
- The socio-economic and political implications of knowledge as a common good (knowledge commons), as opposed to it being circumscribed by private rights (intellectual property)
- Issues related to promoting public access to knowledge
In order to promote these concerns the Society for Knowledge Commons has the following specific objectives:
- Generate awareness about the “commons” approach to production and reproduction of knowledge
- Develop and disseminate appraisal of public policy in the country that impact on generation and use of knowledge
- Mobilise public opinion to impress on policy makers the need to promote laws and policies that advance open use of knowledge
- Specific initiatives, using legal avenues – such as pre-grant opposition to patent claims by companies, use of the Right to
- Information to make available information, etc. — to challenge attempts to commodify knowledge
- Work within public policy making structures to modify policies so as to advance free and widespread dissemination of knowledge
- Work within designated public structures to encourage changes in educational curriculum in order to promote the use of free and open source software
- Campaigns in institutions, such as schools, to promote use of free and open source systems of software
In order to further these objectives the society for knowledge commons engages in various activities.
- Research and publications
- Organisation of campaigns, designed for different target groups, viz. scientists, school teachers, academics, etc.
- Organisation of seminars and workshops with different stakeholders
- Collaboration with other organizations, both inside and outside the country, with similar objectives
Current Activities of the Society for Knowledge Commons
- Organisation of Seminars
Titled “Science Commons” at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in January, 2008
Titled “Collaborative Innovation for Development: Enlarging the Global Commons” at India Habitat Centre in December, 2008.
- Technical Submissions
2.1) Comments to the Standing Committee of Parliament on Science, Technology, Environment and Forests on the bill titled “The Protection and Utilization of Publicly Funded Intellectual Property Bill, 2008”.
2.2) Comments to Department of Information Technology on Draft Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance
Research on Intellectual Property Rights and the Indian Patents Law
- Pre Grant Oppositions to Software Patents
A database of software patents that have been filed is being created, and the same are being analysed to assess public impact if granted and their technical specifications so as to gauge if they fulfill the patentability criteria as laid down by the Indian Patent Act. The process also involves close interaction with the Patent office so as to receive certified copies of Patents filed. The first pre-grant opposition to a software patent application in India has been filed, and others are in the pipeline.
- Campaign to promote use of Free and Open source Software in schools
This is an ongoing campaign in select schools in Delhi, and involves conduct of interactive workshops with teachers and providing schools with technical backup to encourage use of such software