Effects of Software Patent Policy on the Motivation and Innovation of Free and Open Source Developers

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Doctoral Dissertation: The effects of software patent policy on the motivation and innovation of free and open source developers.

URL = http://e-collection.ethbib.ethz.ch/eserv/eth:736/eth-736-02.pdf


"The theoretical framework analyses in detail how the sixteen motivational factors collected from the FOSS motivation literature may be affected by the presence of software patents. As a results from the theoretical analysis, I expect software patents to increase the levels of extrinsic motivation and decrease the level of intrinsic motivation.


In the first empirical study, the effects of software patent presence on selected, representative motivational factors is investigated. To do that a concept of software patent presence is introduced that not only includes jurisdictional components (legal availability and patent incidents), but also a new metric that captures the varying patent pressure across software domains. Empirically, none of the two camps of proponents and opponents of software patents find support: software patents do not negatively affect intrinsic motivation as predicted by opponents, but they also do not positively affect extrinsic motivational factors as proponents predict.

In the second empirical study, the analysis is extended. Here, the effects of software patent presence and motivational setup on the individual innovation behavior of FOSS developers are investigated. To do that a new metric for innovation behavior is introduced that ranks individual code contributions according to their level of innovativeness by distinguishing algorithm-based from reuse-based contributions. The argument is that algorithm-based contributions are more innovative than reuse-based contributions. Beside this ordinal innovation scale, ‘reverse-engineering’ as a specific type of code contribution that is important to the FOSS world, is also analyzed.

One key result is that intrinsic motivation triggers more innovative code contribution, while extrinsic motivation correlates with less innovative code contributions. The presence of software patents (using all three metrics mentioned earlier) does not seem to play a significant role, except in the case of reverse-engineering. This type of code contribution correlates with a stronger presence of software patents." (http://www.computerworlduk.com/community/blogs/index.cfm?blogid=14&entryid=3019&RSS)


By Glyn Moody: http://www.computerworlduk.com/community/blogs/index.cfm?blogid=14&entryid=3019&RSS