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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.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Suzanne Scotchmer, 2010. "Openness, Open Source, and the Veil of Ignorance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 165-171, May.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mikko Mustonen, 2005. "When Does a Firm Support Substitute Open Source Programming?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 121-139, March.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Ted O'Donoghue & Suzanne Scotchmer & Jacques-François Thisse, 1998. "Patent Breadth, Patent Life, and the Pace of Technological Progress," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(1), pages 1-32, March.
    5. Justin Pappas Johnson, 2002. "Open Source Software: Private Provision of a Public Good," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 637-662, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Eric Darmon & Dominique Torre, 2010. "Open source, dual licensing and software compétition," Post-Print halshs-00497623, HAL.
    2. Massimo D'Antoni & Maria Alessandra Rossi, 2014. "Appropriability and Incentives with Complementary Innovations," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 103-124, March.
    3. Hasnas, Irina & Lambertini, Luca & Palestini, Arsen, 2014. "Open Innovation in a dynamic Cournot duopoly," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 79-87.
    4. repec:kap:expeco:v:20:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10683-016-9492-1 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D45 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Rationing; Licensing
    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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