C-Level View :: May 9, 2007

Executive View

The American University and the Ownership of Ideas
An interview with Eben Moglen, Software Freedom Law Center

By Mary Grush

The Software Freedom Law Center's (SFLC) Eben Moglen is one of the high-powered attorneys representing the challenge of Blackboard Inc.'s patent of certain learning technologies. Campus Technology asked Moglen about some of the broader issues surrounding patents on such education technologies.

Could you broaden out for a minute from the Blackboard patent and tell us about the larger implications for higher education and for people who want to work in an open educational environment?

The problem presented for the university professor or graduate student who wants to work in an open environment is that the university has been closing itself for a generation now. The great tertiary and quaternary education system of the United States that grew up after the Second World War was a work of socialism. It was a product of two elements of American socialism: the GI Bill and its attempt to create egalitarian access to knowledge for a generation of people who had fought for the country, and the cold war big science initiatives that poured enormous amounts of public money into prestige research universities....

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