Beyond Open Source Software: A Framework, Implications, and Directions for Researching Open Content

41 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011 Last revised: 19 Aug 2014

See all articles by Chitu Okoli

Chitu Okoli

SKEMA Business School

Kevin Carillo

Toulouse Business School

Date Written: September 19, 2013


The same open source philosophy that has been traditionally applied to software development can be applied to the collaborative creation of non-software information products, such as books, music and video. Such products are generically referred to as open content. Due largely to the success of large projects such as Wikipedia and the Creative Commons, open content has gained increasing attention not only in the popular media, but also in scholarly research. It is important to rigorously investigate the workings of the open source process in these new media of expression. This paper introduces the scope of emerging research on the open content phenomenon, other than open source software. We develop a framework for categorizing copyrightable works as utilitarian, factual, aesthetic or opinioned works. Based on these categories, we consider the applicability of some implications of findings from open source software research for open content. We review some key theory-driven findings from open source software research and assess the applicability of extending their implications to open content. We present a research agenda that integrates the findings and proposes a list of research topics that can help lay a solid foundation for open content research. We also briefly review the literature for some specific directions of open content research, involving the quality of products, the marketing of digital music, and open content in developing countries.

A shorter version of this paper was published in conference proceedings: Okoli, Chitu and Kevin Carillo (2013). Beyond open source software: framework and implications for open content research. Proceedings of the 21st European Conference for Information Systems. Utrecht, Netherlands. June 5-8, 2013.

Keywords: Open content, open knowledge, free cultural works, open source software, free software, Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Suggested Citation

Okoli, Chitu and Carillo, Kevin, Beyond Open Source Software: A Framework, Implications, and Directions for Researching Open Content (September 19, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Chitu Okoli (Contact Author)

SKEMA Business School ( email )

Pôle Universitaire Léonard de Vinci (PULV)
Esplanade Mona Lisa - Courbevoie
Paris la Défense, 92916


Kevin Carillo

Toulouse Business School ( email )

20, bd Lascrosses
Toulouse, 31068


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