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Open Source Software: The New Intellectual Property Paradigm

  • Stephen M. Maurer
  • Suzanne Scotchmer

Open source methods for creating software rely on developers who voluntarily reveal code in the expectation that other developers will reciprocate. Open source incentives are distinct from earlier uses of intellectual property, leading to different types of inefficiencies and different biases in R&D investment. Open source style of software development remedies a defect of intellectual property protection, namely, that it does not generally require or encourage disclosure of source code. We review a considerable body of survey evidence and theory that seeks to explain why developers participate in open source collaborations instead of keeping their code proprietary, and evaluates the extent to which open source may improve welfare compared to proprietary development.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12148.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12148.

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Date of creation: Apr 2006
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Publication status: published as Hendershott, Terrence (ed.) Economics and Information Systems, Volume 1. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 2006.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12148
Note: PR LE
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  1. Schmidt, Klaus M. & Schnitzer, Monika, 2003. "Public Subsidies for Open Source? Some Economic Policy Issues of the Software Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 3793, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. Henkel, Joachim, 2006. "Selective revealing in open innovation processes: The case of embedded Linux," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 953-969, September.
  13. Alfonso GAMBARDELLA & Bronwyn H. HALL, 2004. "Propriety vs. Public Domain Licensing of Software and Research Products," Economics Working Papers ECO2004/15, European University Institute.
  14. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Pankaj Ghemawat, 2006. "Dynamic Mixed Duopoly: A Model Motivated by Linux vs. Windows," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1072-1084, July.
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  16. 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.
  17. Joachim Henkel, 2006. "The Jukebox Mode of Innovation - a Model of Commercial Open Source Development," DRUID Working Papers 06-25, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  18. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Some Simple Economics of Open," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 197-234, June.
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