What can a Government do to encourage Open Source Business model?



Hi all,
as the topic title says, I am thinking about how Government (and politics, in general) can help OS Business Model. More precisely, I am thinking about an “Open Source Economy Act”, possibly a popular law, whose goal is to encourage people to avoid patents and copyright, preferring copyleft and OS.

In my opinion, this is necessary because -as we saw- people’s main dubts are about theft of ideas, and many of them associate patents with sure profit. Now, communities can organize conferences and events like OSCE Days, and repeat brilliant points like @cameralibre’s one in the linked topic, but I guess skepticism will be mainstream for a while. We are talking about a revolution here, it is not easy to convince an entrepreneur to do the opposite of his colleagues.
Unless Governments directly “sponsor” OS Business Models (for instance, reducing taxes or directly financing them). It can be easily shown that OSBM are more beneficial to society than traditional ones, as:

  1. Forks generate more jobs
  2. Technology becomes cheaper, so access to technology it’s easier
  3. Progress is faster

So this hypotetical “OS Economy Act” should simply define what “Open Source” projects are and how a Government should finance it. Definitions can be directly taken from communities (i.e. OSHWA ).

What do you think about that?


This is not quite the same thing that you are suggesting, but there is a practical step that governments can take to spread the use and acceptance of open source models, which is requiring that any solutions developed by government funding are released as open source where possible (eg. the new White House draft policy for software) and/or requiring that when government programs are going through the procurement process, they must use open source solutions where possible, and only use proprietary solutions where no feasible open source solution exists, or where there is some other good reason why open source would not work in some specific case. This kind of law already exists for software in Munich, in some states in Brazil, France and India, and a number of other places.

These laws take money and resources out of proprietary companies and into the open source ecosystem, improving the open source solutions, making them more visible and promoting the idea to more people. So it’s only a small step in the direction of what you are proposing, but it’s a practical one that can save governments money, give them independence from corporate vendor lock-in, and grow the open source ecosystem at the same time.

This is actually one of the goals that we’re hoping to get to in the mid-term (5-15 years) with OSCE - that we can get laws passed, stating that when there is government money made available for circular economy solutions, there is a requirement that the results are open source, unless there is a very good reason why that cannot happen.