The Hold Up Problem

Open Source and Economics: How the Hold Up Problem Explains the Flash Wars

The surprising aspect of open source is not its existence, but its success. People do things for free all the time. Among other things, there is no shortage of people willing to share their videos on the web. However, despite the availability of free videos, viewers are often willing to pay money to watch films made by professionals. Professional producers of films in turn usually make full use of copyright laws. In contrast, in many software domains, open source solutions are preferred. The important question about open source is therefore not “Why do people contribute to a project like Apache?” but rather, “Why can’t companies create proprietary products that can beat Apache on the market?”