The Scope of Open Source Licensing

54 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2002

See all articles by Jean Tirole

Jean Tirole

University of Toulouse 1 - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI); University of Toulouse 1 - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative (GREMAQ); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Josh Lerner

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2002

Abstract

This paper is an initial exploration of the determinants of open source license choice. It first enumerates the various considerations that should figure into the licensor's choice of contractual terms, in particular highlighting how the decision is shaped not just by the preferences of the licensor itself, but also by that of the community of developers. The paper then presents an empirical analysis of the determinants of license choice using the SourceForge database, a compilation of nearly 40,000 open source projects. Projects geared toward end-users tend to have restrictive licenses, while those oriented toward developers are less likely to do so. Projects that are designed to run on commercial operating systems and those geared towards the Internet are less likely to have restrictive licenses. Finally, projects that are likely to be attractive to consumers--such as games--are more likely to have restrictive licenses. A more tentative conclusion based on a much smaller sample is that projects that involve software developed in a corporate setting are likely to have more restrictive licenses. These findings are broadly consistent with theoretical predictions.

Keywords: Software, Contracting

JEL Classification: O34, L22

Suggested Citation

Tirole, Jean and Lerner, Josh, The Scope of Open Source Licensing (November 2002). Harvard NOM Working Paper No. 02-42. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=354220 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.354220

Jean Tirole

University of Toulouse 1 - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI) ( email )

Place Anatole France
21 Allees de Brienne
F-31042 Toulouse Cedex
France
+33 5 61 12 8642 (Phone)
+33 5 61 12 8637 (Fax)

University of Toulouse 1 - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative (GREMAQ) ( email )

Manufacture des Tabacs
21 Allees de Brienne
Toulouse, 31000
France

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Josh Lerner (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6065 (Phone)
617-496-7357 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/jlerner/

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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