Public Domain Chronicle

October 9, 2017

The BioBricks Foundation is pleased to announce the Public Domain Chronicle (PDC), a fast, easy, and free way to secure scientific findings and methods for the public domain. Colleagues in synthetic biology can get started today by visiting

PDC represents an evolution of the BioBrick Public Agreement (BPA), the Foundation’s earlier legal tool for disclosing and sharing standardized genetic functions. PDC builds on the BPA to enable distributed innovation, improving access to the latest technological developments, generalizing to all fields of science, and addressing head-on the challenge of communicating the news of groundbreaking work committed to the commons.

PDC recombines elements of Open-Source-style public licensing, open-access publishing, open data, and defensive publication. Contributors can secure a new finding for the public domain by completing a mercifully short disclosure form, adding metadata to help situate their finding in context, and applying two new short, plain-language legal tools: a public declaration of intent to claim discoveries for the commons, and a public license to make record of that contribution free for redistribution, processing, and search. These disclosures, tuned to effectively build the public domain, become public prior art immediately, with automatically applied and corroborated timestamps.

The software powering PDC is Open Source, available under the terms of The Apache License, Version 2.0. Anyone can host a PDC server, receive contributions, and republish contributions to other servers automatically. Flexible by design, PDC servers can be tuned for ease of use in specific scientific areas. BioBricks will host a server tuned for best possible ease of use in synthetic biology, such as for genetic functions. We look forward to seeing the system adapted for chemistry, materials science, and other areas.

The Foundation and the PDC team wish to express their sincere thanks to all collaborators, and especially those who helped guide PDC as we prepared it for public comment. Now we welcome feedback of all kinds—scientific, technical, administrative, and legal—from everyone working at the intersection of science, community, and the law.