The Scope of Open Source Licensing

Posted: 5 Jan 2005

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

Abstract

This article is an initial exploration of the determinants of open source license choice. It first highlights how the decision is shaped not just by the preferences of the licensor itself, but also by that of the community of developers. The article 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 whose primary language is English are less likely to have restrictive licenses. Projects that are likely to be attractive to consumers-such as games-and software developed in a corporate setting are more likely to have restrictive licenses. Projects with unrestricted licenses attract more contributors. These findings are broadly consistent with theoretical predictions.

Suggested Citation

Tirole, Jean and Lerner, Josh, The Scope of Open Source Licensing. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 20-56, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=635484

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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