The Penguin and the Cartel: Rethinking Antitrust and Innovation Policy for the Age of Commercial Open Source

Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper No. GSPP10-006

44 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2010 Last revised: 28 Apr 2015

See all articles by Stephen M. Maurer

Stephen M. Maurer

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: August 1, 2010

Abstract

We discuss welfare and various policy interventions for mixed ICT markets where firms use either 'open source' (OS) or 'closed source' (CS) business models. We find that the existence of OS business models improves social welfare compared to all-CS industries by letting firms share costs and avoid duplication. However, code sharing also establishes a de facto quality-cartel that suppresses OS firms' incentives to invest. Competition from CS firms weakens this cartel and improves welfare. That said, market forces alone provide too little CS competition. We find no support for various government interventions based on tax breaks for OS-based firms and pro-OS procurement preferences by government. However, policies that directly target the supply of OS code have a positive impact.

Keywords: open source, commercial open source, non-cooperative R&D

JEL Classification: K21, L17, O38

Suggested Citation

Maurer, Stephen M., The Penguin and the Cartel: Rethinking Antitrust and Innovation Policy for the Age of Commercial Open Source (August 1, 2010). Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper No. GSPP10-006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1652292 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1652292

Stephen M. Maurer (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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