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Openness, Open Source, and the Veil of Ignorance

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  • Suzanne Scotchmer

Abstract

The open source movement evolved in the one industrial context where openness is not required by intellectual property law.1 Nevertheless, openness itself cannot be the driving force behind the open source movement. This is because openness can be achieved in many ways other than the GPL, for example, with proprietary licenses, or licenses that are even more permissive than the GPL, such as the BSD license. Early commentators explained this new development model by focussing on the motives of the programmer, such as to demonstrate skills. See the survey by Stephen M. Maurer and Suzanne Scotchmer (2006). But firms also participate in open-source collaborations, sometimes contributing significant resources (Joachim Henkel, 2006, Dirk Riehle, 2009). Doing so can be profitable even if the contributors are rivals in the market. The quality improvements or cost reductions provided by a rival’s open-source contributions may outweigh the deleterious effect of empowering the rival to be a better competitor.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 165-71

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:2:p:165-71

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.2.165
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  1. Suzanne Scotchmer & Jerry Green, 1990. "Novelty and Disclosure in Patent Law," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 131-146, Spring.
  2. Mikko Mustonen, 2005. "When Does a Firm Support Substitute Open Source Programming?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 121-139, 03.
  3. Green, J.R. & Scotchmer, S., 1993. "On the Division of Profit in Sequential Innovation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1638, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1999. "On the Optimality of the Patent Renewal System," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 181-196, Summer.
  5. Justin Pappas Johnson, 2002. "Open Source Software: Private Provision of a Public Good," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 637-662, December.
  6. O'DONOGHUE, Ted & SCOTCHMER, Suzanne & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Patent breadth, patent life, and the pace of technological progress," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1314, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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Cited by:
  1. Hasnas, Irina & Lambertini, Luca & Palestini, Arsen, 2013. "Open Innovation in a dynamic cournot duopoly," DICE Discussion Papers 111, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  2. Éric Darmon & Dominique TORRE, 2014. "Open Source, Dual Licensing and Software Competition," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen), Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS 201405, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.

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