A trust approach for sharing research reagents | Science Translational Medicine
peter.suber's bookmarks 2017-08-13
Abstract: The core feature of trusts—holding property for the benefit of others—is well suited to constructing a research community that treats reagents as public goods.
[From the body of the article:] "Under an open science trust, reagents are treated as a public-good resource governed by principles that promote the public interest, in this case, open science. Our open science trust agreement codifies these public-good principles. Under its terms, a recipient of research reagents becomes a “trustee” of the reagents. Trustees are bound by principles that specifically prohibit filing any patent claims that would restrict use of the reagents by others. The result is to create and expand an open science community connected by a common commitment to the foundational aims of the reagent generators.
A trust is a legal relationship whereby one party—called the trustee—is given control over property but must use it for the benefit of others—called the beneficiaries. In this regard, a trust contrasts with direct legal ownership over property, which allows owners to use the property for their own ends and to prevent others from using or benefiting from it. That is how we normally think about tangible goods such as real estate and intangible ones such as patented biomedical inventions.
A trust places a duty on those who possess entrusted assets to manage those assets for the benefit of particular third parties or, in the case of charitable trusts, in furtherance of particular objects that benefit the public. Trusts are created by appointing trustees under a legal document that enumerates specific obligations in dealing with trust property. Private trusts—those with individual beneficiaries—are often used for tax and estate planning purposes. Charitable trusts, by contrast, are dedicated to serving the public, as opposed to particular individuals, and must have definite charitable objects that guide the trustee’s use of trust property. In effect, the “public” constitutes the beneficiary of a charitable trust. Charitable trusts are often administered by a group of trustees whose joint efforts to further the aims of the trust can foster a communal sense of purpose...."