Change in IRRI's copyright policy to facilitate the free exchange of vital information

After being given an important new role by the rice-producing nations of Asia to support the free flow of rice research and knowledge, the International Rice Research Institute has announced an important change in its copyright policy

Los Baños, Philippines – After being given an important new role by the rice-producing nations of Asia to support the free flow of rice research and knowledge, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has announced an important change in its copyright policy.

Taking a leaf out of the software industry's book, the Philippines-based Institute has announced that it will change its information copyright policy from the original "all rights reserved." Effectively echoing the software industry's open-source movement, others will now be able to use IRRI's intellectual property provided they do not place restrictions on its use by anyone else.

The practical change will not be great--IRRI previously offered relatively free use of its information to other parties. The major difference now is that users need not ask permission. The change is also symbolic, representing the Institute's goal of promoting the free exchange of ideas and information.

IRRI's decision follows the release of the Delhi Declaration on Rice by the Ministerial Roundtable at the International Rice Congress (IRC) in Delhi (9-13 October), wherein the Institute was asked to "host a task force … to prepare a road map" that would help achieve the main objectives of the declaration, which include a plan "to establish a comprehensive partnership among the participants through strengthened dialogue on a regular basis for strengthening rice research and development efforts."

"We were already preparing to change our copyright policy when the Ministerial Roundtable asked us to host the task force and facilitate the continued exchange of rice research and information in Asia--we're honored to be asked to play such an important role," IRRI Director General Robert S. Zeigler said. "Both decisions also fit very well with goal four of IRRI's new Strategic Plan, Bringing Hope, Improving Lives, to provide equitable access to information and knowledge on rice and help develop the next generation of rice scientists."

Announcing the new Strategic Plan at the opening of the IRC on 9 October, Dr. Zeigler said: "Asia needs to invest more in agriculture, and especially agricultural and rice research. Without new ideas and technologies, each country's rice industry will stagnate and hold back the rest of the country."

The full text of the Delhi Declaration follows, while IRRI's new Strategic Plan can be downloaded from the Web at www.irri.org/BringingHope/ImprovingLives.pdf.

THE DELHI DECLARATION ON RICE

Confirming the spirit of the Beijing Declaration on rice issued after the First International Rice Congress held in China on Sunday, 15 September 2002, and

Confirming our commitment to intellectual property rights as per the World Trade Organization's stipulations and provisions, including indigenously developed and improved varieties of rice;

Stressing the strategic importance of the Asian nations in the production of rice and moved by the will to give their future thrusts a new dimension, based on comprehensive cooperation, in keeping with the privileged nature of the links forged by neighborhood and history;

Aware that farmers are facing the challenge of producing more rice at less cost in a deteriorating environment and rice research and development needs to address the Millennium Development Goals on poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security, and environmental conservation in a partnership mode; Resolve to establish to that end a multilateral framework based on a spirit of partnership; Regarding this multilateral framework as the counterpart to a strengthening of bilateral relations which it is important to safeguard, while stressing their specific nature; Stressing that this initiative is not intended to replace the other activities and initiatives undertaken in the interests of the peace, prosperity, stability, and development of the region, but that it will contribute to their success; Hereby agree to establish a comprehensive partnership among the participants through strengthened dialogue on a regular basis for strengthening rice research and development efforts laying greater emphasis on the social, cultural, and human dimensions and that the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) would host a task force comprising experts from all the countries and centers of excellence in the area to prepare a road map for the purpose.

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The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world's leading rice research and training center. Based in the Philippines and with offices in 10 other Asian countries, it is an autonomous, nonprofit institution focused on improving the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes, while preserving natural resources. IRRI is one of 15 centers funded through the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), an association of public and private donor agencies. Please visit the CGIAR website (www.cgiar.org) for more information.

Web sites:

IRRI Home (www.irri.org),

IRRI Library (http://ricelib.irri.org),

Rice Knowledge Bank (www.knowledgebank.irri.org).


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