Proprietary vs. Public Domain Licensing of Software and Research Products

48 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2005 Last revised: 7 Mar 2015

See all articles by Bronwyn H. Hall

Bronwyn H. Hall

University of California at Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS); Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Alfonso Gambardella

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Date Written: February 2005

Abstract

We study the production of knowledge when many researchers or inventors are involved, in a setting where tensions can arise between individual public and private contributions. We first show that without some kind of coordination, production of the public knowledge good (science or research software or database) is sub-optimal. Then we demonstrate that if "lead" researchers are able to establish a norm of contribution to the public good, a better outcome can be achieved, and we show that the General Public License (GPL) used in the provision of open source software is one of such mechanisms. Our results are then applied to the specific setting where the knowledge being produced is software or a database that will be used by academic researchers and possibly by private firms, using as an example a product familiar to economists, econometric software. We conclude by discussing some of the ways in which pricing can ameliorate the problem of providing these products to academic researchers.

Suggested Citation

Hall, Bronwyn H. and Gambardella, Alfonso, Proprietary vs. Public Domain Licensing of Software and Research Products (February 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11120. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=667162

Bronwyn H. Hall (Contact Author)

University of California at Berkeley ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/bhhall/index.html

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, Bayern 80539
Germany

Alfonso Gambardella

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

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