Using Intellectual Property agreements to defeat public disclosure

Phil Jones’ plan to hide from FOIA

Eric Worrall writes:

Anyone shocked by Mann’s broad claims of academic exemption from freedom of information, due to the “proprietary nature” of his work, should consider the following Climategate email.

Climategate Email 1106338806.txt says:

“I wouldn’t worry about the code. If FOIA does ever get used by anyone, there is also IPR to consider as well. Data is covered by all the agreements we sign with people, so I will be hiding behind them. I’ll be passing any requests onto the person at UEA who has been given a post to deal with them. … I got a brochure on the FOI Act from UEA. Does this mean that, if someone asks for a computer program we have to give it out?? Can you check this for me (and Sarah)”

Full email here:

But, there’s hope from Mark Steyn, who writes: Don’t Start Deleting Those Emails Just Yet, Mikey!

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April 17, 2014 9:35 am

I would expect Intellectual Property to apply better in a patent or manufacturing lawsuit than a lawsuit which covers data and analysis for a research project. After all, the first two result in a consumable product which can be sold. The later just results in hubris and cannon fodder.

April 17, 2014 9:38 am

If FOIA doesn’t apply to publicly funded research at universities, what does it apply to? Even government officials (like Lois Lerner and Eric Holder) are refusing to turn over non-personal emails sent as part of their official duties. What good is FOIA if it doesn’t apply to public officials who have something to hide?

April 17, 2014 9:38 am

nice. co2 is black box science. except black box isn’t science is it?

April 17, 2014 9:48 am

Well if intellectual property rights are more important than proving the validity of CAGW then it can’t be that bad after all.

April 17, 2014 9:50 am

Okay then, we need to start ratings, classifications, and pre-qualifications of university health science research centers according to which ones hide methodology and which ones maintain ethical standards of conduct. Start with UVA and Penn State for demotions.

April 17, 2014 9:53 am

I just don’t get it. We are being told that we need to enact public policy based on publicly funded research which is the intellectual property of the publicly-funded institute which conducted it and we cannot get independent verification of this research. Is that about it? Or am I missing something?

April 17, 2014 9:54 am

Someone should remind them that they are being paid by the public!
Why should they have any IPR!

April 17, 2014 10:08 am

We need changes in how taxpayer monies are handed out to scientists and universities. There should be an independent and objective process to determine if certain research is important enough to receive public funding. Whether something gets funded should not depend upon which party is in the majority. It certainly should not depend upon whether or not a scientist is a “progressive.”
Receiving public monies should be contingent upon full disclosure of data and methodology with only certain clearly defined exceptions.. If a researcher or university wants to hide data and methodology, they should use other than public funding. And they should know that such research cannot be used to further certain political agendas. Congress should not consider research, where data and methodology have not been fully released and verified, when formulating public policy.

April 17, 2014 10:09 am

So, to be clear: the general public can submit and receive information from the federal government on UFO’s, Marilyn Monroe, the JFK assassination, organized crime, etc., etc., from the FBI and CIA no less (which the courts uphold)…BUT… are not allowed information from tax supported VA University research of a problem that doesn’t exist but drains millions from the public coffers.
Who’da thunk that research into the irrelevant affects of a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the Mann who thought they could, would / could be elevated to a level above UFO’s and Marilyn Monroe!? Egad…it’s worse than we thought! Oh what a happy Mann he must be. sarc/off

April 17, 2014 10:11 am

Can you imagine a disaster movie in which the hero barges into the Mayor’s office insisting that the entire city be evacuated immediately, or everyone is going to die due to some impending calamity? Imagine the Mayor’s first question and the response from the hero (played by Michael Mann of course).
Mayor: How do you know?
“Hero”: …uhm, well, uhm, that’s proprietary.
Mayor; So you want me to evacuate 1 million people on your say so? What’s the difference between you and the guy with the sandwich board on the sidewalk claiming we have to repent or the end of the world will commence today?
“Hero”: Yeah, but I’m a scientist and my proprietary data is more important to me than the lives of 1 million people, so you’ll just have to trust me.

April 17, 2014 10:15 am

Here is what the shoe looks like on the other foot.
In this case, environmental groups seek the proprietary information of private companies and some state legislatures appear to be backing that up.

April 17, 2014 10:18 am

Norwegian here. Do I understand this right? Michael Mann, the scientist who warns us that global warming is real and dangerous based on a computer model, refuses to give out the computer code they used to raise the alarm worldwide? Wouldn’t a real scientist want other scientists to verify his findings?

April 17, 2014 10:25 am

Good thing they did not release the vote. I suspect that would have caused a bigger howl of outrage.

Cold in Wisconsin
April 17, 2014 10:31 am

What does the research contract language say? Aren’t the people who pay for it entitled to take a look at the work product? And if we get to see the results of the research, then why would the work that went into it not also be available for review? How can you “vet” the results as valid if you cannot have access to the underlying data? If I am paying for it, I most certainly want to make sure that I am getting what I pay for. Does Intellectual property protect fraud? We desperately need a whistle blower.

Cold in Wisconsin
April 17, 2014 10:33 am

And who “owns” the rights to the climate anyway, much less climate research. It’s like getting a patent on a natural process. Gaia owns it.

April 17, 2014 10:41 am

I say we stop letting the government take our money in taxes. We, who actually work, gained our money via intellectual processes. Ergo, our money is intellectual property and cannot be released.

April 17, 2014 10:45 am
The Washington Post has gone full liar mode today to prove this last winter affected only a tiny corner of the NE US. While Montana and much of the upper Midwest states were ‘normal’ and NO COLD RECORDS at all, anywhere.
And that the entire planet warmed significantly this year!
Of course, if you erase all the cold, this happens. I was stunned to see my own home farm which froze this winter badly, listed as ‘slightly colder than usual’ which is an outright fabrication. Upstate NY looked like Antarctica and even yesterday, we had more snow and this week it is going below freezing every night which is totally abnormal.

April 17, 2014 10:47 am

If I ever thought I had an idea that might save humanity (haha), I would spread it far and wide.
What’s with all the secrecy ?

April 17, 2014 10:52 am

There is a very simple way to deal with this, although it flies in the face of the current establishment.
If a study is done but none of the raw data is provided, then the study (or whatever it purports to be) needs to be automatically discarded as meaningless garbage, nothing more than hearsay.

April 17, 2014 10:53 am

Mann on Twitter…
Michael E. Mann ‏@MichaelEMann 1h
“VA Supreme Court Unanimously Supports Academic Freedom at the Univ. of Virginia” @MichaelUCS @UCSUSA: … #HSCW

Tom O
April 17, 2014 11:12 am

I think it would appropriate for the sources of the money spent on the research to have full access to that research, including the data and code used. If they prefer to call it proprietary and thus not required to give to those that paid forthe research, then I would suggest that those sources request a full refund of the moneysince, in effect, they received no value in exchange. I am willing to allow all of the alarmists their right to their proprietary information, just return the funds that were given them to create it. So who has the rights to sue them for breach of contract?

April 17, 2014 11:21 am

It’s almost like we are watching a really pathological person run a scam.

April 17, 2014 11:24 am

Funny, the left/progressive/Occupy types go off on incredibly oblique tangents about private companies patenting things they believe should belong to the people.
Here we have something that belongs to the people, yet now they’re saying that it belongs to a person/corporation, and they’re ok with that.

April 17, 2014 11:31 am

Excellent point.

April 17, 2014 11:32 am

Rising says:
April 17, 2014 at 10:18 am
Norwegian here. Do I understand this right? Michael Mann, the scientist who warns us that global warming is real and dangerous based on a computer model, refuses to give out the computer code they used to raise the alarm worldwide? Wouldn’t a real scientist want other scientists to verify his findings?
You must be new to the debate.
Yes, you’ve nailed it. Nor is Mann alone in this. They don’t want to share their code, their data, or even their emails discussing the issues. They just want us to Believe.

April 17, 2014 11:40 am

I love these unfair rulings. These situations always lead to madness. Behold!
So, according to the VASC, if UVA decided to conduct reasearch into weapons of mass destruction by building some, this would meet all the requirements for proprietary scientific research, and need not be disclosed. There is no exemption to the excemption for moral turpitude or crimes against humanity or violating statutes of any state or country. No! Not for you! How very interesting.
UVA scientists can research how to evade VA taxes, and because it’s research of a technical matter, and disclosing it would allow competition (i.e. proprietary), they can simply represent it as such (because it is) and deny everyone access to records that are off-budget. As long as you have the administration on board, nobody can touch you.
With this shield in place, the mafia can safely set up shop at UVA, so long as they keep all their transactions within the state and have blackmail material on some top administrators.
These are no longer hypothetical contrived situations, but are the rule of law in VA as of today.
One has to wonder if they’ve already been doing this sort of thing as a motivating factor behind such an irrational decision on the part of the judiciary. Did UVA participate in torture research? There’s really no way to know at this point.

David Chappell
April 17, 2014 11:47 am

Cold in Wisconsin says:
What does the research contract language say?
That might well be a fruitful way forward- FOI request to the government bodies who made grants to Mann/UVa for copies of the contract and related paperwork

Ex-expat Colin
April 17, 2014 11:54 am

From my software systems independent audit/assessor days (ISA), access to all contract documentation was via the Customer. The Customers service/product Contractor is obliged at Contract agreement time to allow access by the Customers ISA. The ISA may not be specified at the time of contact agreement. IPR requirements at all times must be respected/guarded.
On periodic assessment of a projects progress by an ISA, both on-site and Commercial-in-Confidence documentation (data/software/publications/meetings) is closely reviewed and reported to the Customer and Contractor by the ISA.
As described above is a closed and secure loop. Or as best as it can be on pain of prosecution.
FOI or ad hoc requests for information depending on Customer interests is difficult – to say the very least. In many Government projects it won’t happen for many years and perhaps a partial release might be considered. Beware the IPR conditions though and that is understandable and could be challenged. Elements of National Security may well appear, and all sorts of reasons for that.
I’d say that if information is required of a Contractor in Contract with a Government Dept then its that Dept that should be approached. Otherwise resources are wasted headbanging.
Any Government Dept receiving ad hoc info/guidance from anywhere without contract should be open to us all. Using such material is dangerous.
Saying all that though might be wasted if the Government Contract is weak as regards any project information access. I suspect its that? I believe that Its certainly the national Interest that should be respected on the CC AGW topic. All of it!
I hope thats not a sucking eggs meander ?

Ian W
April 17, 2014 12:09 pm

ConfusedPhoton says:
April 17, 2014 at 9:54 am
Someone should remind them that they are being paid by the public!
Why should they have any IPR!

They will not have any IPR.. For everything that was purchased or created with the funding from the government ownership is ‘vested’ entirely in the government. That means Phil Jones’ desk and biro if purchased with the funds are not his or UEA’s but belong to the government. Similarly everything created written drafts, reports computer programs etc etc all belong to the government. The FOIA request should be sent not to the University but to the funding government agency who own the data.

The same applies to all work done for government funding UNLESS there is a specific term in the contract detailing precisely pre-existing IPR or pre-existing ownership.

Walter Allensworth
April 17, 2014 12:29 pm

Pay no attention to the Great and Mighty Mann behind the curtain!

more soylent green!
April 17, 2014 1:33 pm

I would have been shocked if the courts actually put the rights and interests of the people above the power of the state.

Theo Goodwin
April 17, 2014 3:02 pm

Time to rewrite the Freedom of Information Act. Thanks, Virginia Supreme Court.

Steve from Rockwood
April 17, 2014 4:33 pm

As much as I dislike Mann and like Steyn (and love Delingpole – in a totally professional way), this will never happen (access to his emails). He is a little fish in a very big, corrupt pond (and not just scientists). If the public are allowed to see Mann’s emails, then anything is possible. Therefore, we will never see his emails through FOI. Wish it weren’t so, but that is the way things are.

April 17, 2014 5:00 pm

I imagine the Mann child has numb fingers from deleting emails already, what has he got to hide?

old construction worker
April 17, 2014 5:16 pm

Mark- I just order your Steyn VS Hockey Stick T-shirt and coffee mug. When you win, I’m going to track you down and have them autographed. I’ll even chip in for a party in your honor.

April 17, 2014 5:20 pm

If he were important to a powerful conspiracy they’d have disappeared him by now.

April 17, 2014 5:34 pm

Michael Mann, the ‘tree’ rain gauge scientist, is fighting for his tattered scientific position. He knows full well that he was a hand picked guinea pig, right out of PHD, a useful village idiot to create the Hokey Stick. He must be very angry at his former dog handlers.

April 17, 2014 5:41 pm

My little old grandma used to say ‘if you’ve got nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’ unless you have something to hide. Heck, if you can play tricks and ‘hide the decline’ you can hide everything else. Hiding behind something is the name of the game, just ask Dr. Paul Jones (Nature Trick TM, MM FOI). Exposure would end this Climastrological Voodoo trickery.

April 17, 2014 5:55 pm

Would not any proprietary intellectual property be necessarily covered by copyright or patent?
Did not Jim Salinger claim his adjustment algorithms which boosted New Zealand’s 7 Station warming trend were “proprietary”?

Paul Lassiter
April 17, 2014 6:25 pm

What does it matter? The climategate emails were not enough. With the help of a complicit media and low information voters they were easily able to explain away “Mikes Nature Trick” to “Hide the decline” as a clever solution to a scientific problem. Even if emails were released and they included Mann saying that “global warming is a scam and he is just in it for the money” the leftist media would dutifully report that it was taken out of context and not important anyway because Climate “Change” is even worse than they thought!

April 17, 2014 6:54 pm

Quick headsup, it has been pointed out to me that some people might not be aware that when I use the word “Climategate Email”, I mean one of the files in the Climategate archive.
Many of the Climategate archive files contain more than one actual email, including the one I quoted. The quote in this post comes from two different emails which are part of the same message thread, in that archive file.

April 17, 2014 9:15 pm

There is one thing about Mann he must be resilient in his protests for a reason. It’s almost like parliamentary comments, can be exempt from legal prosecution, as if what is said in parliament can be libelous or just plain old slander especially if it is televised live.

April 17, 2014 9:28 pm

ClimateGate -The gift that keeps on giving.

April 17, 2014 10:29 pm

The quote in this post comes from two different emails which are part of the same message thread, in that archive file.
So which part is from which e-mail? Some of the context would be helpful, and an indication of which part came first.

April 17, 2014 10:53 pm

jimmi_the_dalek, chronologically the second part came first, but it was further down in the file.
I recommend you click the link I provided if you want more contextual background. There is other interesting material in that file.

April 18, 2014 12:13 am

Nothing intellectual about mann’s ravings.

April 18, 2014 1:39 am

This decision finally renders climate science officially a religion: “YOU MUST BELIEVE!”

April 18, 2014 3:16 am

So will the US public see 100,000 of publicly funded scientists effectively say you can’t see any of my research which you’ve paid for! and any research that “may” be commercially valuable, I get to keep the rights and any income generated??Wow! blows the need for publicly funded universities/research right out of the water??should we be demanding that our governments stop funding all the above?

April 18, 2014 7:24 am

If the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court was unanimous, then they are OWNED.
That’s all there is to it.
Obviously there is an ENORMOUS amount of money in play here, and a lot to be made or lost based on the implementation of the climate religion (aka wealth redistribution).
Another case of Mann thinking he is god….

April 18, 2014 7:32 am

Further to my last comment, what would Thomas Jefferson say? Or the rest of the founding fathers of our nation? Or Benjamin Franklin, who was known to get a charge out of science and weather every so often?
Time for FOIA to show up and do the job, though I suspect he (/she/whatever) has been muzzled.
Ultimate irony – maybe Steyn could ask the NSA for the mails…(or, for that matter, any of the 200 other national agencies in the rest of the world…maybe they should get together and form a cloud backup service…)

Wallhouse Wart
April 18, 2014 8:23 am

FOI requests generally only cover government directly. Why do you think all these little schemes are run out of arms length agencies and universities? Because they don’t have to abide by FOI legislation. That is why academic scientists in Canada are upset at Stephen Harper. He has refused to cut loose the government scientists at Environment Canada and they are obliged to follow FOI guidelines whereas NOAA scientists don’t. Therefore they can’t collaborate.

Gunga Din
April 18, 2014 8:41 am

J. Philip Peterson says:
April 17, 2014 at 10:53 am
Mann on Twitter…
Michael E. Mann ‏@MichaelEMann 1h
“VA Supreme Court Unanimously Supports Academic Freedom at the Univ. of Virginia” @MichaelUCS @UCSUSA: … #HSCW

I guess I won’t be going to any movies in Virginia. It seems that now anyone can go into a crowded movie theater and yell “Fire!”. Any deaths or injuries in the ensuing panic cannot be blamed on the Chicken Little that raised the false alarm since he doesn’t have to show whether or not there actually was a fire.

April 18, 2014 6:52 pm

Well said Gunda din, as always. But if grants have been given to a university for a specific research project, someone somewhere wants to see the results. The source of a grant is usually known or should be don’t you think? The researcher obviously will lean towards what the grant is aiming to prove or disprove.

April 18, 2014 7:02 pm

bushbunny says:
April 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm
Ah, but are you not assuming that the 200 billion in “climate change” research is “really” for “science research” as we used to know it and trust it, and not propaganda, publicity, control, and politics ?

April 18, 2014 7:39 pm

Oh I agree wholeheartedly, that was the ultimate outcome and pushing clean (?) energy. Do you remember what Hansen said when he visited Australia? ‘Clean energy was not the answer, go nuclear’ … as we have a huge coast line so could use sea water to cool the reactors. The problem there is that our population congregates in coastal cities, then thins out miles from city centres, but our agriculture and horticulture is generally almost totally based in the bush and some in the outback of course. And we do have different micro climates, from tropical, monsoon, alpine, temperate and sub tropical dictating what we can grow. Like sheep are better off away from the coastal regions because of the higher rainfall.
To deliver energy to outlying places via nuclear would be too expensive and untenable. And Aussies don’t like the idea either. We in the so called bush or regional areas pay more for electricity than city folk, because of the distance it has to travel. And if electricity is not available, say in a rural property, and it is a new subdivision You pay to have it relayed to you. We didn’t pay as much as others, as the poles were there, but we paid for the transformer that fed all the other three 100 acre farms. We wanted to build our house somewhere else, but the cost of relaying electricity to it was over $20.000. And that was 30 years ago, you can imagine how much it would be now. One neighbor had to pay for another pole as the wires from our pole would have been too close to the ground. It was just what the Australia bush is like in some areas.

April 18, 2014 7:43 pm

When I said higher rainfall I really meant to share that sheep are prone to fly strike and foot rot in higher rainfall areas, but cows for milk thrive where there is good green pasture. Yet store cattle for meat can exist in dryer areas. Just when there is a drought they have to be sold or hand fed.

April 18, 2014 9:04 pm

This would be worth an appeal, even the introduction of legislation. Not because that buffoon’s emails are important, we’ve seen his tweets, but because nothing publically funded is proprietary. Except to the public.
Legislation might be better because the administration is behind open access…

April 18, 2014 9:38 pm

I am not sure gymnosperm, in Australia an email can be used to convict someone, and emails can be traced back to the sender. But if they want to hide them from a court, surely someone can get a copy of them, and produce them as evidence?

Gail Combs
April 19, 2014 8:44 am

Mycroft says: @ April 18, 2014 at 3:16 am
“….?Wow! blows the need for publicly funded universities/research right out of the water?? should we be demanding that our governments stop funding all the above?….”
That is what I keep on saying. If Academia is going tell us peons we have no RIGHT to the research our moneys pay for then fine. Let them go else where for their funding.
It is time to stop ALL FUNDING to Academia.
At present I am reading:
Willing Accomplices: How KGB Covert Influence Agents Created Political Correctness and Destroyed America
by CIA case officer, Kent Clizbe. After reading fifty pages my tongue in cheek call to stop funding Academia has just become serious. Kent makes the case that the Universities are the Willing Accomplices.

…American transmitters of the KGB’s covert influence operations: journalists, screenwriters, and professors, among others….
Their goal was to destroy the core moral fabric of American society. …the Soviet intelligence
apparatus began what would now be called in intelligence circles, “a preparation of the battle space” to move the world towards the inevitable dictatorship of the proletariat….

The purpose…would be to instill a reflexive loathing of the United States and its people as a prime tropism of left-wing enlightenment.
Stephen Koch, on KGB Covert Influence Operations

When you think about it this is really is no surprise.

April 19, 2014 9:31 am

You and I are both old enough to remember when FOI laws were being trumpeted as major reforms furthering ethics, transparency, and democratic values in government and public policy.
How utterly disgusting and depraved that squalid little so-called “scientists” like Michael Mann and Phil Jones have been subverting the intent and application of these laws for years. If CAGW is really supposed to be one of the greatest calamities humanity has ever been faced with then there can be no excuses for hiding data and methods relevant to judging the issue.
The cowardly and intellectually corrupt complicity of these VA justices shows that biased “justice” is possible anytime dubious political correctness infects the judiciary. The twisted mis-use of the concept of “proprietary” in this judicial decision is an intellectual disgrace.
As for issues in engineering and biomedical sciences, even a bunny ought to be able to see the differences between those fields and climate psy-ence.

April 19, 2014 2:22 pm

p.s. Some of the greatest blame lies with major funding bodies such as the NSF, which should have been requiring and enforcing full release of all publicly funded data all along. There should not even be any need for FOI submissions because all publicly funded data and methods, software, etc. should be released in full the moment a study is published, and there should be a strict time limit from the time data is collected, so that it cannot be withheld indefinitely by claiming (as so many climate psy-entists do) that work is still being done with said data for future publications.

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