Open source innovation is a phenomenon that has its roots in the software industry. Volunteers from all over the World collaborate through internet platforms in order to develop software products which are freely available to anyone to use, modify and distribute (Mustonen, 2003). This altruistic behavior seems contra-intuitive from a purely economical point of view. However, intrinsic factors of motivation have been identified as pervasive factors for contributing in open source environments (Lakhani and Wolf, 2005). From a legal perspective open source products underlie certain licenses (e.g. GNU General Public License (GPU) or Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) License) which basically ensure that the products are available to anyone against no charge, often referred to as “copyleft” (Laat, 2005) which is a wordplay with “copyright”. The open source licenses are supposed to avoid the misuse of products for commercial purposes. A more detailed description of the open source principles can be read in the “Debian Free Software Guidelines” by Bruce Perens. Historically, open source principles were already established among the hacker culture in the 60ies and 70ies (von Hippel and von Krogh, 2003). In order to act upon the philosophy of commercialization of licensing source code and therefore making it proprietary or “closed”, Richard Stallman has founded the Free Software Foundation in 1985. Later in 1998 the term “open source” was introduced and commonly accepted by prominent hackers including Perens or Raymond.
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