The unacknowledged convergence of open source, open access, and open science

John Willinsky


A number of open initiatives are actively resisting the extension of intellectual property rights. Among these developments, three prominent instances — open source software, open access to research and scholarship, and open science — share not only a commitment to the unrestricted exchange of information and ideas, but economic principles based on (1) the efficacy of free software and research; (2) the reputation–building afforded by public access and patronage; and, (3) the emergence of a free–or–subscribe access model. Still, with this much in common, the strong sense of convergence among these open initiatives has yet to be fully realized, to the detriment of the larger, common issue. By drawing on David’s (2004; 2003; 2000; 1998) economic work on open science and Weber’s (2004) analysis of open source, this paper seeks to make that convergence all the more apparent, as well as worth pursuing, by those interested in furthering this alternative approach, which would treat intellectual properties as public goods.

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