The Impact of Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement on Open Source Software Project Success
Information Systems Research 24(4), 1131-1146, 2013
46 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2015
Date Written: 2013
We investigate how intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement against developers and users of open source software (OSS) affects the success of related OSS projects. We hypothesize that when an IPR enforcement action is filed, user interest and developer activity will be negatively affected in two types of related OSS projects — those that display technology overlap with the OSS application in dispute and business projects that are specific to the disputed OSS platform. We examine two widely publicized lawsuits — SCO v. IBM and FireStar/DataTern v. Red Hat — using data from SourceForge.net. Our difference-in-difference estimates show that in the months following the filing of SCO v. IBM, OSS projects that exhibit high technology overlap with the disputed OSS experienced a 15% greater decline in user interest and 45% less developer activity than projects in the control group; OSS projects that are intended for business and specific to the disputed OSS platform had a 34% greater decline in user interest and 86% less developer activity than the control group. We find similar results following the filing of FireStar/DataTern v. Red Hat. Our results are also robust to a variety of robustness checks, including a falsification exercise and subsample analyses.
Keywords: Open source software (OSS), OSS success, intellectual property rights (IPR), intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement, difference-in-difference estimation
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