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Working Paper Series

Open Source Software: The New IP Paradigm


  • Suzanne Scotchmer, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Stephen M. Maurer, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper (April 2006)


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 biasesin 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 participateinopensource collaborationsinsteadofkeepingtheir codeproprietary, andevaluatesthe extent to which open source may improve welfare compared to proprietary development.

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Last updated on 05/07/2014