A License to Kill (Innovation)? Open Source Licenses and Their Implications for Innovation
Yale University - Law School; New York University School of Law
Yale University - Information Society Project; Cornell University - Science and Technology Studies
April 30, 2005
This paper examines the implications of Open Source License (OSL) selection on software innovation, and suggests how modifying the Open Source Definition, or modifying certain provisions in OSLs that have become de-facto standard licenses in open source development, could better accommodate the competing needs and diverse motivations of different would-be software innovators. We make an important distinction between initial developers those developers who decide what license will apply to the code they write, and later developers - those developers who subsequently wish to use code that was previously released under a certain OSL (and are therefore affected by license terms selected by initial developers). This distinction facilitates the analysis of the effect OSL provisions have on the development of new independent code and, importantly, their effect on any subsequent use of code released under an OSL. The changes we propose could considerably increase the likelihood that a wider variety of developers (including commercial firms) would make use of code released under such revised OSLs, as well as the likelihood that code would be released under OSLs to begin with.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: open source software, software license, software innovation, innovation, software development, GPL, GNU General Pubilc License, Mozilla Public License
JEL Classification: D45, D81, K11, O31, O34working papers series
Date posted: November 29, 2005
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