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EC261 Management of New Technology – Academic Year 2022/23

Open-source software is computer software that has gained much attention recently in the tech is developed by a group of programmers who share their codes freely and openly. The software is usually made available to the public for use, modification, and distribution by anyone who wants to use it without restrictions (Lundell & Van der Linden, 2012). The traditional belief that innovation would not occur without legal protections for the creators of tie software has been challenged by open-source software since it was made accessible and in the public domain.

Open-source software has some unique features which have made it outstanding. One of the main characteristics is collaborative and transparent nature. It is collaborative in such a way that it has been developed by a group of programmers who contribute to open-source projects that develop high-quality software available to everyone (Rahad et al., 2021). The approach is inclined toward sharing knowledge and resources to create something that benefits everyone. The software is developed so that the user can alter, modify and improve according to their preferences and specifications that fit their needs.

In contrast, the legal protection of the creators of the software developers, a system of intellectual property rights, is based on ownership and control. The intellectual property laws such as copyright and patents are designed to protect the rights of creators and inhibit others from using their work without their permission (Viswanathan, 2019). The system believes that creators need to be rewarded for their hard work and innovation; without legal protection, innovation could not have occurred.

Open-source software mainly contrasts with intellectual property rights in the way they are distributed. The software is made available to the public free for use by everyone without restrictions and limitations. The software is made available for anyone to use, modify or improve without being questioned or seeking permission from the creator. However, intellectual property law requires the developer or creator to register their works and enforce their rights to protect their intellectual property. This limit access to others from using their work because it would be an infringement of their rights which is punishable.

The second way open-source software challenges traditional intellectual property rights systems is the way it is developed. The software is developed collaboratively by which a team of programmers works together to develop high-quality software (Dutton al, 220). The approach encourages innovation and creativity through sharing knowledge and resources. In contrast, the traditional method of intellectual property rights does not encourage teamwork leading to a lack of collaboration and is purely based on the idea of ownership and control.


Open-source software has several implications, which vary from one to another. It allows increased access o technology and can positively impact society in general. Furthermore, the software can make the technology easily accessible and affordable, improving the lives of less fortunate people.

One important benefit of open-source software is that it promotes cumulative innovation. More new ideas are built on top of existing technologies rather than starting from zero each time. Furthermore, it is built by a group of developers to share ideas and resources (Homscheid, 2020). Sharing knowledge and ideas allows for the development of innovations and the improvement of technology to the existing one.

Cumulative innovation is also essential in health care and education departments, where innovation is crucial in social welfare. For instance, open-source software in health system help develop new technologies that are accessible and affordable to those in need ( Keller et al., 2012 ). The system has made it easy for researchers and healthcare providers to collaborate and share knowledge freely. This can lead to rapid development and dissemination of new technologies, positively impacting the health sector.

Open-source software also plays a very important role in the education sector in such a way that it can be used to develop new learning tools and resources available and affordable to all students regardless of their social and economic status and background (Solomon, 2007). It can be used to develop educational resources such as textbooks, online courses, and educational addition, open-source software has made these resources freely available, thus filling the inequality gap and improving social welfare.

Open-source software also stretches outside the tech industry and plays an important role in other sectors. For instance, in the fashion industry, open-source design allows for sharing patterns and designs (Nandigam & Gudivada, 2015). Apart from the fashion industry, open-source software can also be applied to develop physical products such as medical devices and consumers product. By collaborating and sharing designs, researchers, and designers can create products that are accessible and affordable to those in need.

One of the possible limitations of open-source software is funding and support. While it can be developed without legal protection requirements, it still needs resources and funding for development and maintenance. This mainly affects small organizations or projects that need clear revenue models.

In summary, the implication of open-source software for social welfare is important. The model promotes collaboration and knowledge sharing, which can lead to the development of innovations and the improvement of existing technologies. Cumulative innovation is one of the significant benefits of the open-source model, mainly in healthcare and education. The model is also applied in other sectors, such as fashion and physical product designs. However, the model still needs resources and funding in the development process to make it successful. As the tech industry continues to expand and grow, we expect the model to stretch to other sectors, bring transformations, and continue impacting social welfare in either way. It will be more interesting to witness changes that open-source software will impose and its implications on the traditional system f intellectual property rights, which could be overshadowed shortly.


Open-source software can be compared to various historical samples of accumulated inventions where scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs work together to create new technologies and innovations ((Pearce, 2018). These samples illustrate the benefits of collaboration and knowledge sharing, which are the central roles of the open-source software model.

One example of a collective historical invention is the development of the Cornish pumping engine during the British industrial revolution. The engine was used to drain water from the mines, which made the operation more efficient and allowed deeper access to the mines. Cornish pumping engines were developed due to collaborative effort from a network of engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs who shared their knowledge and expertise(Nuvolari, 2004). The success of Cornish pump development was due to teamwork and knowledge sharing from various experts.

Another example of collective invention s the development of the modern pharmaceutical industry. The industry is built on various collaborations where researchers and scientists from different organizations work together to develop new drugs and treatments. This industry’s success resulted from sharing knowledge and resources from different researchers and organizations.

Open-source software is ne a modern example of collective invention .it is developed like the Cornish engine and pharmaceutical industry through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Open-source software is developed through collaboration, where knowledge and resources are shared freely (Chan & Husted, 2010). The success of open-source software was due to the collaborative environment in which it was developed.

The main difference between open-source software and traditional system of intellectual property is cumulative innovation. The idea is based on building innovation on top of the existing technologies rather than starting from scratch each time (Chesbrough & Ghafele, 2014). The researchers can build on the existing codes rather than develop new codes from scratch. It hastens the process of developing new technologies and improvement of existing technologies.

In contrast, the traditional system of the intellectual property rights like copyright and patents sometimes can inhibit cumulative innovation. Even though they provide legal protections to creators and inventors, they can sometimes limit the idea of building innovation on top of the existing technologies. This can slow down the innovation process, denying society from benefitting from them.

Open-source software also has some implications, one being the commercialization of technology. In the traditional system of intellectual property rights, creators and investors has exclusive rights to technology, which allow them to control its access (Esquivel-Sada, 2022,) use and distribution. However, in the open-source model technology is freely available for anyone to use and build upon. This can lead to new business models and many revenue streams, which offer good support to open-source software.

In summary, open-source software can be compared to several historical examples of collective inventions, such as the development of the pharmaceutical industry and Cornish pumping engines. The success of this industry was a result of the collaborative environment in which they were developed.Open source software plays a critical role in promoting collaborative and cumulative innovation, which leads to faster development of new technologies and improvement of existing technologies. It challenges the traditional system of intellectual property rights and implies technology commercialization. As the tech industry grows, seeing how the open-source model will impact innovation and society is interesting.


In conclusion, open-source system has challenged the traditional system of intellectual property rights that innovation requires legal protection rights. The open-source system promotes knowledge sharing, collaboration, and cumulative innovation, leading to faster technological development and improvement of existing technologies. This has connected it to social welfare, where it allows wider access to technology and can lead to new business models and revenue streams. The model has been compared to historical examples of collective invention, such as the development of Cornish pumping engines and the modern pharmaceutical industry. This example clearly shows the benefits of collaboration and knowledge sharing in deriving innovation and technological progress. Despite all the benefits, the open-source model has some challenges, including quality and security issues that might arise because some technology requires intellectual protection rights.


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