Worldwide, governments and businesses are recognizing the value of open source and free software. Unlike other software, this software is developed and continuously improved by volunteers in communities on the Internet. How are these communities able to continuously develop innovative software in a world dominated by markets, companies and laws? Protecting the Virtual Commons discusses the surprisingly creative solutions that explain the long-lasting stability of these communities. It identifies the threats that the communities are faced with and discusses the amazingly innovative strategies developed to neutralize these threats. This book has been written with a clear focus on intellectual property rights. In their analysis, the authors provide answers to, among others, the following questions: Why have open source and free software communities created so many different licenses to protect their intellectual property? What influence do licenses have on the organization of the communities and their ability to innovate?
• The Information Technology and Law Series is an initiative of ITeR, the National Programme for Information Technology and Law, which is a research programme set up by the Dutch government and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in The Hague • The series deals with the implications of information technology for legal systems and institutions
Acknowledgements; Abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Describing open source and free software communities; 1.1 Introduction; 1.2 Popularity of open source and free software; 1.3 Historical development of openness and freedom; 1.4 The communities; 1.5 Characteristics of the communities; 2. Interpreting open source and free software communities; 2.1 Introduction; 2.2 The challenge facing open source and free software; 2.3 How individuals in communities provide a public good; 2.4 On the nature of innovations; 2.5 Variation and selection in open source and free software communities; 2.6 Summary; 3. The commons under pressure: business processes and IPR; 3.1 Introduction; 3.2 What are intellectual property rights?; 3.3 Copyrights and patents on software; 3.4 Firms and their attitude towards IPR in the digital age; 3.5 Threats from the physical domain; 3.6 Summary; 4. Mechanisms to protect the commons; 4.1 Introduction; 4.2 Open source and free software licenses; 4.3 Beachheads; 4.4 Strategies; 4.5 Communities becoming a threat to the corporate software; 4.6 Effects of the protection mechanisms; 5. Living apart together: hybrid business strategies on the edge of the commons; 5.1 Introduction; 5.2 Hybrid strategies for software developers; 5.3 Hybrid strategies for hardware manufacturers; 5.4 Hybrid strategies for corporate users; 6. Analysis and conclusion; References; Appendix: the licenses; About the authors; Index.