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Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 7 Mar 2001 11:56:02 -0500
text/plain (43 lines)
[said Tom]
>
> My understanding is that the U of I got money only *after* they went
> after Netscape.  If the code had been GPLed they wouldn't have gotten
> anything.
>
On the other hand, one could argue that because the work was funded
already by Uncle Sam (I think NCSA is almost entirely govt-funded)
why should the university collect royalties for work it was already
paid to do?

Well, OK, one can make the case equally well on both sides here.

But that's just the point - there is not a clean-cut, one-size-
fits-all answer to the question of how the government should best
seed R&D and its subsequent commercialization.

We have a big, chaotic country here, with a lot of diverse
and contending interests. In many ways, the government mirrors the
country - big and chaotic with lots of contending interests.

Even though the government sometimes acts against a specific interest,
I think most of us - in our heart of hearts - recognize that on the
average, we get served pretty well by a government that manages to
balance things out.

And the federal government isn't really _that_ big a part of the
overall economy (if you ignore the really big programs like
Medicare and Social Security). We have big fights over a pool
of money that's pretty much at the margin.

(Aside) People who don't like the strings that come with government
money have the option not to take it. One of the best examples is
public education, in which the federal share of overall expenses is
around 6%. The other 94% is mostly at the state & local level, as is
most of the control in this country.

You'd never know the federal share was so small, given the
amount of shouting we hear about how best to distribute it.
I think we could say the same about R&D, couldn't we?

Mike Feldman

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