To patent or not to patent: a pilot experiment on incentives to copyright in a sequential innovation setting
This paper presents preliminary results from a pilot experiment dealing with the economic motivations to contribute to Free/Open Source Software (FOSS). In a seminal paper Bessen and Maskin (2006) argue that in a dynamic sequential innovation framework in which every innovation builds on previous inventions the standard argument for granting patent protection is no more valid and the innovator has at certain conditions an incentive to fully disclose the results of his works; in these same conditions, a copyright strategy could result in a tragedy of the anticommons (Heller 1998, Buchanan 2000). We study in the lab the choice of copyrighting or copylefting subsequent innovations in a dynamic setting à la Bessen and Maskin, introducing an innovative experimental design requiring real effort on the part of subjects. The players are asked to actually 'innovate' producing words from given letters, and face the choice to copyright or copyleft their words. Subsequent words can be created by modifying existing words, for free if a word is copylefted, and paying a fixed license fee if the word is copyrighted. Preliminary results show that copyleft is more likely to emerge when royalty fees are relatively high, and when the extendability, modularity and manipulability of inventions is enhanced. Moreover, copyleft innovations are sparsely started but once set in motion attract a higher number of contributors than copyrighted innovations, generating higher quality innovations and showing a more thorough exploration of possible profitable extensions. Finally, high royalty fees tend to generate anticommons effects, namely a lower rate of cooperation resulting in underuse of resources and lower innovative output.
|Date of creation:||05 Mar 2010|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Via Conservatorio 7, I-20122 Milan - Italy|
Phone: +39 02 50321522
Fax: +39 02 50321505
Web page: http://www.demm.unimi.it
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Buchanan, James M & Yoon, Yong J, 2000. "Symmetric Tragedies: Commons and Anticommons," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 1-13, April.
- Boldrin,Michele & Levine,David K., 2010.
"Against Intellectual Monopoly,"
Cambridge University Press, number 9780521127264, December.
- Boldrin,Michele & Levine,David K., 2008. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521879286, March.
- Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2008. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000002371, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Bitzer, Jurgen & Schrettl, Wolfram & Schroder, Philipp J.H., 2007. "Intrinsic motivation in open source software development," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 160-169, March.
- Bitzer, Jürgen & Schrettl, Wolfram & Schröder, Philipp J. H., 2004. "Intrinsic motivation in open source software development," Discussion Papers 2004/19, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
- Jürgen Bitzer & Wolfram Schrettl & Philipp J.H. Schröder, 2005. "Intrinsic Motivation in Open Source Software Development," Development and Comp Systems 0505007, EconWPA.
- Bitzer, Jurgen & Schroder, Philipp J.H., 2005. "Bug-fixing and code-writing: The private provision of open source software," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 389-406, July.
- Jürgen Bitzer & Philipp J. H. Schröder, 2002. "Bug-Fixing and Code-Writing: The Private Provision of Open Source Software," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 296, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
- Norbert Schulz & Francesco Parisi & Ben Depoorter, 2002. "Fragmentation in Property: Towards a General Model," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 158(4), pages 594-594, December.
- Schulz, Norbert & Parisi, Francesco & Depoorter, Ben, 2001. "Fragmentation in property: Towards a general model," W.E.P. - Würzburg Economic Papers 32, University of Würzburg, Chair for Monetary Policy and International Economics.
- Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)