21st February 2006

A new "open access to knowledge" project hosted by the Queensland University of Technology aims to ensure that anyone can legally share knowledge across the world, whether they be an every day citizen or a top end researcher.

The QUT team, led by School of Law head, Professor Brian Fitzgerald is embarking on a $1.3 million, two year project to develop legal protocols for managing copyright issues in an open access environment.

The Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project, when complete, would provide legal protocols that would free up the national and international research environment and remove barriers to reusing and remixing information, Professor Fitzgerald said.

The project is funded by a $1.3 million Systemic Infrastructure Initiative grant from the Department of Employment, Science and Training.

"If researchers know they can safeguard their work with OAK Law protocols they will be more comfortable with making it available online and thus increase the stock of knowledge available to everyone," Prof Fitzgerald said.

"The OAK Law protocols will benefit everyone from school students to Nobel Prize winners who can go online, do a Google search, find relevant research and use it without fear of being sued for copyright infringements.

"The project will work with cutting edge research repositories in marine science and medical research to ensure that all Australians have the right to access and, where permitted, reuse high quality research data in their daily lives."

Under the project, publicly funded research that could benefit members of the public from primary school students working on an environment assignment to fishermen looking for clues to where the fish are, will be available.

"Other information could be used by someone suffering from epilepsy, diabetes or asthma to better understand their condition and treatment," Professor Fitzgerald said.

The OAK Law protocols were being developed to assist everyone to know and understand the basis on which they could use the information.

"If research results are released under a non-commercial licence, anyone who wants to use the information in a commercial fashion will need to contact the owners of the information for permission to do so."

Professor Fitzgerald said the OAK Law protocols would enhance global networking and research collaboration.

"Scientists will be able to access data to check validity of the findings and increase the chance for "serendipitous" encounters between researchers.

"QUT is at the forefront of the open access to knowledge movement. Our work is being closely watched by UK and US universities."
For more information on the project visit http://www.oaklaw.qut.edu.au.

Media contact: Niki Widdowson QUT media officer, 07 3864 1841 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au.
**HIgh res pics of Professor Fitzgerald available.

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