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Tuesday, 21 December 2010 10:45

Gartner slams AIIA over Government software intellectual property policy

By

A Gartner analyst has taken issue with the Federal, NSW and Victorian governments for allowing suppliers of bespoke software developed for government contracts to retain the intellectual property in the software, but has been especially critical of the AIIA, the industry body that lobbied to have this policy introduced.

In a posting on Gartner's blog site, Brian Prentice, a research vice president with Gartner's Emerging Trends and Technologies Group, said: "Two weeks ago, the NSW state government became the third government jurisdiction in Australia - along with the federal government and the Victorian state government - to change the intellectual property rights (IPR) provisions of their IT procurement policies so that ICT suppliers would, as a starting position, retain ownership of the IP for software developed under contract."

Prentice condemned the move as "bad policy," saying: "It is far from best practice. It is not in the best interests of citizens. It will not help the local IT industry as a whole," and he promised to explore an alternative strategy in a future posting.

However the main target of his criticisms was the AIIA, whose position on IPR he said reflected "the aspirations of the world's largest, multinational IT vendors" and not as its mission statement claims its role to "lead and represent the ICT industry in Australia."

Prentice notes that the AIIA board is comprised almost entirely of large multinational providers like Intel, Google, Microsoft, EMC and CSC (Gartner has the only non-IT vendor board seat). He says: "The personal integrity and reputation of these individuals is beyond reproach. But the role of any industry lobby group is to advocate what's in its members' best interest. And they do that by trying to convince governments that a special consideration to one segment of society results in a benefit to everyone."

According to Prentice: "This is regularly done by wrapping arguments in the respectable garb of lofty and generally-agreed principles like increased employment or free trade. Of course, that calculus doesn't always work out as promised. Often, special considerations end up entrenching inefficiencies and limiting competition."

He then proceeds to dissect the arguments the AIIA used to support its lobbying efforts, which can all be found in the document 'Key Issues with NSW Government's Procure IT v2.1.3' claiming [The AIIA's] diagnosis of the problems associated with customers seeking to own intellectual property in newly-created items is either misleading, illogical, or demonstrably wrong. He then attempts to demolish these assertions one by one. You can read his arguments in full on Gartner's blog site.

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