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Open Source and Intellectual Property. Open Source Some curious facts –Microsoft, in its antitrust defense claims it is only “one innovation” away from.

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Presentation on theme: "Open Source and Intellectual Property. Open Source Some curious facts –Microsoft, in its antitrust defense claims it is only “one innovation” away from."— Presentation transcript:

1 Open Source and Intellectual Property

2 Open Source Some curious facts –Microsoft, in its antitrust defense claims it is only “one innovation” away from being stripped of market share –The strongest competitor for Windows for desktop computer operating systems currently is Linux, an operating system co- authored by hundreds -- if not thousands -- of programmers, most of whom know each other only by reputation –Information industry preferentially hires young programmers and managers

3 Open Source What is it? –Non-proprietary software development –Code is modified cooperatively by a community of users –Copyright law is applied to restrict the restriction of use of the code in order to ensure that any and all users can access and modify the source code for their own purposes Hallmarks of the process –Parallel as opposed to linear development of software functionality –Continuous as opposed to staged  -testing Examples –Sendmail –Apache web server –Perl scripting language –Linux OS

4 Open Source Recent history – Focus on academic computer science at places like Berkeley, MIT, CMU, as well as corporate research facilities like Bell Labs and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center –Unix, C (Bell Labs) Simultaneous development of networks –Usenet and later Arpanet – In the early ‘80’s, AT&T began to treat Unix as proprietary, at which point different “flavors” of the OS emerged (Berkeley’s BSD Unix, HPUX, Sun) Emergence of formal rules in response to AT&T’s threats of litigation to govern open source development –Free Software Foundation (R. Stallman, MIT) –GNU software and the General Public License (GPL)

5 Open Source Open source licensing terms: –No licensing restrictions imposed on others’ use of code –All code, whether developed cooperatively or separately, licensed on the same terms –Note use of copyright law to restrict downstream “enclosure” (i.e. proprietarization) of code. This is the distinction between open source and public domain software. Evolution of open source organizational structures –Distinction between contributing programmers and leadership group having control over changes in the “official” version of the software

6 Open source –1990-Present Widespread diffusion of internet Introduction of Linux OS “Debian Social Contract” –Movement away from the “viral” nature of the GPL to allow use of open source code in proprietary software without requiring that the larger packet be released as open source. Challenges of managing open source –Forking and splintering: development of competing variations –Market segmentation in favor of high-end users at expense of low-end: support, documentation, user-interface

7 Open source Economic Theory and Open Source –Altruism? –Other motivations: immediate versus delayed costs and benefits –Immediate benefits Direct compensation if employer encourages open source activities Benefit in use if work involves fixing a bug or improving software the programmer uses regularly –Immediate costs Opportunity cost of time spent on open source project

8 Open source –Delayed rewards: Signaling incentives Career concerns Ego gratification –Signaling dimensions Visibility of performance to relevant audiences (peers, labor market, venture capital community) Effort impact on performance Information content of performance about talent

9 Open source Open Source versus Commercial Incentives –Commercial Proprietary control of code allows it to generate income, which can be used to compensate programmers. –Greater control in allocation of specific resources Costs associated with the need for secrecy in development of code and for copy protection efforts –Open Source Reduced revenues when code is given away Reduced costs associated with –“Alumni effect”: Freely available code gets incorporated in teaching activities, which leads new generations to adopt the same software, reducing downstream training costs. (Unix) –Customization and bug-fixing: Direct external benefit associated with parallel development and innovation –Transparency of process and functionality –Full initiative –Minimal lock-in

10 Open source Leadership, Organization and Governance Issues –Large open source projects need leadership and rules to avoid splintering –Leadership activities Provide a vision of the end result(s) of the project –Assemble a critical mass of initial code to demonstrate value of the project and promise for the future Organize production modules –Components must be doable and contribute to the overall project Attract programmers to the project –Ensure that component modules provide sufficient challenge Hold project together –Be able to make hard-nosed decisions about which components end up being part of the “official” version of the software

11 Open source –Governance Single strong leader (Torvalds with Linux) Governance committee Issues of trust, ability to communicate, willingness to compromise in the face of merit, clarity in evaluation procedures Open Source and Commercial Software Development –Commercial duplication of open source incentives? –Some efforts by major players to adopt open source processes Microsoft, HP Netscape’s Mozilla project

12 Open source –Commercial strategies Provision of complementary products and services –Documentation –Installation and configuration wizards –Support Provision of expertise in support of open source projects Intermediation between corporate clients and open source community –Certification –Conduit to venture capital community –Example: Collab.Net

13 Open source Open questions about open source –Does the modularization required for effective management of open source development scale? Report of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee indicates some belief by experts that it does –Does open source management activity scale? –How durable are open source products?

14 Intellectual Property Open source and science –Basic research as an open source activity Similarities in modularization of projects, open contribution to freely available literatures, and incremental improvement of existing results Similar schism between commercial research activities and academic Similar incentive effects at work Similarity of governance structures –Why is Science Open Source? Centrality of ideas Complexity of interactions Importance of access

15 Intellectual Property –Distinction between tangible property which can be moved physically from place to place and intellectual property based on intangible ideas Theft of physical property involves removal of the object in question. Remedying theft involves returning the stolen property Theft of intellectual property involves not removal but copying of the intangible (idea, story, music). Remedying theft involves destroying the stolen copies

16 Intellectual Property –History of Copyright Protection The concept of physical ownership is ancient Concept of copyright followed invention of the printing press in the 15th century –Development of markets for copies of written work and incentives for piracy –Royal Charter of 1557, granting monopoly rights to distribution of copies of published works to the London-based Stationers’ Company –Subsequent breakdown of the monopoly as demand for printed materials increased. First true copyright laws established in the Statute of Anne in 1710 which provided for 14 years or copyright protection and set for penalties for infringement. Subsequent extensions of period of copyright and implementation of copyright treaties providing global protection –Berne Convention (1886)

17 Intellectual Property –Role of technology Technology of distribution has always played a major role in the episodic revamping of global copyright laws –Shapiro and Varian’s example of the rise of libraries –Parallel examples in the development of videos and DVDs –Current evolution in the distribution of music (Napster, Gnutella) Shifting focus of copyright from protecting distributors to protecting authors –Public goods aspects of authorship Ideas are memetic –They reproduce themselves –Useful ideas are reproduced more quickly than other ideas –Ideas evolve

18 Intellectual Property Consequences of enclosure –Results of research remain proprietary –Access to shared ideas is limited »Less participation in editorial activities »Less participation in conferences »Less cross-fertilization of ideas Copyright law as a balancing of the public good with authorship incentives –Ideas per se can’t be protected –The expression of ideas can be protected »Patents for inventions »Copyright to books, songs, plays, movies, etc. »Trademarks for business brands and logos

19 Intellectual Property Copyright as an incentive mechanism –No protection for work containing no original intellectual content »Factual lists not protected (telephone book, yellow pages) –Limits of protection: Fair use is not a copyright infringement »Permissible uses include copying for purposes of criticism, comment, reporting, teaching or research –Copyright and the Internet Technical issues –Routine file copying occurs as a standard part of the TCP/IP protocols –Spillover effects of routine copying »Easy copying, easy pirating »First sale doctrine »Copy protection

20 Intellectual Property Legal Issues: Enforceability of copyrights –Napster and Gnutella –Music distribution »Current Model »Internet Model »Is music becoming a public good? »Is there a viable business model for online distribution? »What are the impediments to change? Strategy Issues: Using business practices to control reproduction –Product type may moot copyright concerns »Interactive services »Time-dependent products –Where product is susceptible to piracy, managed obsolescence can limit the value of piracy by providing for new versions or frequent updates of the basic product.


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