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Copyright vs. Copyleft Licencing and Software Development

Author

Listed:
  • Massimo D'Antoni

    ()

  • Maria Alessandra Rossi

    ()

Abstract

This article aims at clarifying the role played by licenses within the increasingly relevant Open Source Software (OSS) phenomenon. In particular, the article explores from a theoretical point of view the comparative properties of the two main categories of OSS license--copyleft and non-copyleft licenses--in terms of their ability to stimulate innovation and coordination of development efforts. In order to do so, the paper relies on an incomplete contracting model. The model shows that, in spite of the fact that copyleft licenses entail the enjoyment of a narrower set of rights by both licensors and licensees, they may be preferred to non-copyleft licenses when coordination of complementary investments in development is important. It thus provides a non-ideologically-based explanation for the puzzling evidence showing the dominance, in terms of diffusion, of copyleft licenses.

Suggested Citation

  • Massimo D'Antoni & Maria Alessandra Rossi, 2007. "Copyright vs. Copyleft Licencing and Software Development," Department of Economics University of Siena 510, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:510
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    File URL: http://repec.deps.unisi.it/quaderni/510.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Josh Lerner, 2005. "The Scope of Open Source Licensing," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 20-56, April.
    2. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Some Simple Economics of Open," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 197-234, June.
    3. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Corporate Governance: Some Theory and Implications," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 678-689, May.
    4. Aghion, P. & Tirole, J., 1993. "On the Management of Innovation," Working papers 93-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    5. Alex Gaudeul, 2005. "Public provision of a private good: What is the point of the BSD license?," Industrial Organization 0511002, EconWPA.
    6. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "The Management of Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1185-1209.
    7. Johnson, Justin P., 2006. "Collaboration, peer review and open source software," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 477-497, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engelhardt, Sebastian v. & Freytag, Andreas, 2013. "Institutions, culture, and open source," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 90-110.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    intellectual property rights; open source; copyright; copyleft; GPL license; incentives to innovation.;

    JEL classification:

    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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