Luis R. Rodriguez

Luis R. Rodriguez at

Thanks to @mlinksva for sharing - it gets me wondering if Free Software legalese folks *cough* @bkuhn @fontana might have an opinion on the "Intellectual Property" aspects of research of both Singularity University and the shiny new Knight News Challenge. I provide highlights to at least Singularity University's claims on IP over their projects which claim to take on "humanity's greatest challenges". I'm not sure about Knight News Challenge's take on IP.

Mike Linksvayer likes this.

Knight News Challenge means well, but far from perfect or straightforward, read

What are the the IP terms of the News Challenge?

If you win, you’ll own your intellectual property. But under most funding mechanisms, you’ll be required to release what you make as open source (for software) or Creative Commons (for content and documentation). The only exception is companies in which we make an enterprise investment. Legalese detail: Grants to nonprofits have a strict requirement: any software developed with grant money must be released as open source (typically under GNU General Public License 3). The same is true for grants to for-profit companies. The business receiving a grant agrees to bind itself to the open source license it owns as if it were a licensee. If a Program Related Investment is made, only the initial release must be open source, and future versions can be licensed in different ways. At the end of the funding period, the company can pay back the funds it received or Knight can take a stake in the company. An Enterprise Fund equity investment has no open-source requirements.  

What is your definition of releasing as “open source”?

Software that is available for anyone to use or build upon at the conclusion of the grant period. You will own your platform, but you will have to share the software you develop under a GNU General Public License(GPL) (or other open source license, by agreement with us) and any content, documents, manuals or instructions under Creative Commons licensing. We consider exceptions to these requirements on a case-by-case basis.  

What is Knight Foundation’s IP licensing policy?

Knight Foundation’s intellectual property (IP) licensing policy seeks to use IP terms and conditions in its agreements that allow projects to achieve their highest possible impact and Knight’s highest social return on investment. This licensing policy also aims to increase the transparency of grant outcomes by allowing for greater sharing of knowledge and adoption among user communities. The specific type of license required by Knight Foundation depends on the type of IP being created, the type of organization receiving the support and the specific objectives of the project. In general, non-charitable organizations (for-profits or individuals) receiving a grant must use the most permissible IP licenses. In addition to licensing the IP, non-charitable organizations will also be licensees themselves and so subject to the terms of the license for any future versions of the IP. If non-charitable organizations receive a Program Related Investment (PRI) they are not required to be licensees.

Mike Linksvayer at 2014-04-08T21:06:35Z

Also, from your post:
Another new research effort announced recently was the Knight News Challenge. In June 2014  they will award $2.75 million, including $250,000 from the Ford Foundation, to support the most compelling ideas and projects that make the Internet better. In a recent post they address the concerns of funding and folks taking your ideas (scooping):
To be clear, the Knight News Challenge thing is a competition, the "recent post" above is an entry in the competition, not a post from Knight. (I think the entry is great and my endorsement of it is what you noticed.)

Mike Linksvayer at 2014-04-08T21:11:45Z

Finally, about SU. IIRC they made some noises about being "open" in terms of their educational materials around the time they started, not sure to what extent they ever did this. The default license on their website was CC-BY from at least 2009 when I noted it at the end of til Now that is gone and their ToS, without me actually reading it  looks standard bad. I used to keep in touch with some of the people involved, but not sure if those people sill are (know for certain 1 isn't). Last I heard they were trying to shift from being a nonprofit to being a benefit for-profit, which probably doesn't mean much given poor nonprofit policies/actions, but without more info isn't a hopeful sign.

Mike Linksvayer at 2014-04-08T21:29:19Z

Thanks, I've ammended my post with clarifications on that the post was an entry into the competition. For some reason this didn't read that way.

Its sad to hear about all SU and the changes you have observed...

As for The Knight Challenge the last paragraph certainly was not too clear and I'm unsure if its being vague on purpose. Oh well...

Luis R. Rodriguez at 2014-04-09T07:28:23Z