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Public provision of a private good: What is the point of the BSD license?

Author

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  • Alex Gaudeul

    (University of East Anglia - Norwich & ESRC Centre for Competition Policy)

Abstract

Software is a potentially excludable public good. It is possible, at some cost, to exclude non-paying users from its consumption by using copyright law or technological restraints. Licensing the software under proprietary license terms makes of it a private good, licensing it under the BSD does not change the economic nature of the software while licensing it under the GPL artificially makes of it a pure public good. A project leader will prefer one or the other of those license terms depending on her software project’s market potential and on the cost of developing it. The optimal licensing for a sequence of cumulative innovations and the impact of possible competition between rival software development teams are considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Gaudeul, 2005. "Public provision of a private good: What is the point of the BSD license?," Industrial Organization 0511002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0511002
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 41
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    File URL: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/io/papers/0511/0511002.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
    2. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2005. "The Economics of Technology Sharing: Open Source and Beyond," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 99-120, Spring.
    3. Hellmann, Thomas F & Perotti, Enrico C, 2006. "The Circulation of Ideas: Firms Versus Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 5469, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. 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.
    5. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
    6. von Krogh, Georg & Spaeth, Sebastian & Lakhani, Karim R., 2003. "Community, joining, and specialization in open source software innovation: a case study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1217-1241, July.
    7. 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.
    8. Alexandre Gaudeul, 2004. "The LaTeX project: A case study of open-source software," Industrial Organization 0409009, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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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.
    2. Gauguier, Jean-Jacques, 2009. "L’industrialisation de l’Open Source," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/4388 edited by Toledano, Joëlle, July.
    3. 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.
    4. Alexia Gaudeul, 2008. "Consumer Welfare and Market Structure in a Model of Competition Between Open Source and Proprietary Software," Working Papers 08-31, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Open Source Software; Public Goods; Information Goods; Non- Profit; Volunteer Organisation; Intellectual Property; Copyright; Licensing; Innovation;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D45 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Rationing; Licensing
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • 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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