Open Source Strategy Research Blog

Updating business strategy for a world embracing open source

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why just copyright? What about other forms of IP?

It has been brought to my attention that I might be unnecessarily limiting the scope of the research by focusing it exclusively of the impact of changes in attitude towards copyright.

In the general populace—the populace whose views about copyright are changing—doesn’t understand the distinction between different forms of intellectual property, such as copyright, trademark, patent, industrial design, or trade secret.  As such, perhaps it would be more accurate to cast the net wider to cover perceptions towards intellectual property in general, and not just copyright.  Obviously the research would have to classify the assessments according to type of IP to test whether or not there are different views for different types.

Further, different jurisdictions around the world have different divisions between different forms of IP.  In North America, the legislation is pretty clear for the division between copyright, and patent.  Elsewhere, the divisions are different, and the subject matter that may be protected under different laws is different.  This legislative difference may be as a result of the different international attitudes towards IP, or it may be the cause (or it may have no relation, of course).  A classification of all the different IP legislation in different jurisdictions around the world seems to be a good starting point.

This discussion is particularly interesting in the context of open source, as we are seeing changes to open source licenses to account for the possibility that software—previously thought to only be protected under copyright law—may, in fact, be patentable.  Researching these areas further could help forecast the evolution of open source licenses to contend with future legislative changes, or future attitude changes in the populace.  That’s wishful thinking, for sure, but I like to aim high.


posted by Mekki at 4:01 pm  

Friday, October 9, 2009

It's all about change

It occurred to me that what we are really talking about here is change on a large scale.  An interesting question is whether change now – the change in perspective on copyright – is any different than other business model-inducing change in the past.

Is the change today any different from changes brought on by the industrial revolution? Or the printing press?  Or Roman aqueducts?  Perhaps that’s a good place to start:

– Model the major changes that resulted in the emergence of new business models.  What are their common factors?  Are there certain traits that can be described that allowed certain businesses to survive while others died?

– Describe the “survival” traits for businesses.  What did they do to adapt their business models to the new situations?  Can we formulate a theory on the “evolution” of business models as a survival trait for businesses?  Perhaps some of Dawkin’s work could be useful here?  Or work on memology?  Can we apply some existing theories to business and test them in this context to make a contribution?

– Create a method of adapting businesses based on some sort of external analysis of the triggers to change, present or future, a way of testing the waters on where to move, and how to survive under the new conditions. There appear to be some parallels here to Christensen’s disruptive innovation work, but on a larger scale that expands it beyond technical innovation towards any forces (technical or otherwise) that induce business model change.

– Test this model in the context of changes on attitude to copyright.  Find other indicators and test against those too to see if it holds up?

The novel contribution would be in the predictive validity of the method.

Is this too big a chunk to bite off?  Can it be broken down into neater pieces?

posted by Mekki at 3:34 pm  

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Updating obsolete business models to reflect changes in attitude towards copyright

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to phrase the FOSS issue in a way that might be compelling for business schools.  I recently attended two excellent presentations by Cory Doctorow.  He spoke about the divide between media corporations, legislation, and the needs of artists and the public, and it occurred to me that the reason for this divide is because he (and other copyfight activists) speak in a social language, whereas media executives speak in “MBA speak”, if you will.  I wanted to ask him who was doing the work of examining the changes in attitudes towards copyright around the world, and updating the dated 1950s business models to reflect these changes, in a language that media executives would see, and clearly showing that it makes sense financially to do so, lest they become obsolete.  I drafted up a brief outline of what the research would have to look like:

– An examination of existing business models and their reliance on certain attitudes towards copyright (Probably largely done already)
– An examination of changes of attitudes towards copyright (Probably in progress)
– A projection of how the business models would have to adapt in order to create and capture the most value under these new conditions (Getting there…)
– A projection of how the business models would have to adapt in order create and capture the most value under future, fluidly changing conditions, perhaps due to new technology adoption over time (New contribution)

The end result would be a fluid model of adaptive business models that shift with attitudes towards copyright.  They could be applied immediately internationally based on individual nations’ present attitudes, and phased in (and out) in other countries over the next few decades as necessary to support changing needs.

posted by Mekki at 3:37 pm  

Thursday, October 8, 2009

About the Open Source Strategy Research Blog

The purpose of  this blog is to collect current thoughts on research directions in the area of open source strategy.

Specifically, it is meant to generate and discuss ideas on research topics that would be suitable for investigation at the Master’s or PhD level.

I invite contributions by people interested in the field of open source strategy and welcome feedback on the blog and its content.

posted by Mekki at 3:30 pm  

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