Open Source Software in Eastern Europe and Other Emerging Markets: The Moral Alternative to Piracy?
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Journal of Internet Law, Vol. 9, p. 3, January 2006
The international intellectual property regime has so far failed to deliver on the promise of technological advancement in Eastern Europe and other emerging markets with respect to the software industry. Local programmers have had little to gain from a stronger protection of copyright in their domestic markets, and this situation is not likely to change soon. At the same time, piracy has turned out to be a necessary evil for the diffusion of software that is legally priced beyond the reach of most local users. Price discrimination could have provided a solution for this conundrum, but there are important economic and political factors that support the morally dubious status quo. These problems require more innovative thinking. Open source software is likely to be a central part of the answer, but it is an uphill battle in a context where the dominant proprietary software packages already have a lock-in on most of the emerging markets, the network effect in their favor working, ironically, through piracy. The initiation and effective implementation of open source projects will require serious efforts to change the approach of governments in developing countries and the international organizations involved in development assistance.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: software piracy, intellectual property, piracy, software, open source, free software, development, technology transfer, parallel imports, price discrimination, price differentiation, differential pricing, information technology, Eastern Europe, outsourcing, emerging markets, economic development
JEL Classification: O34, O33, O38, O39, L86, K3, K4
Date posted: May 25, 2006