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Open or Closed? The politics of software licensing in Argentina and Brazil

Jones, Ivor (2015) Open or Closed? The politics of software licensing in Argentina and Brazil. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

Whether software is licensed under terms which ‘close off’ or make accessible the underlying code that comprises software holds profound implications for development due to the centrality of this good to contemporary life. In the 2000s, developing countries adopted policies to promote free and open source software (F/OSS) for reasons of technological autonomy and to reduce spending on royalties for foreign produced proprietary software. However, the adoption of such policies varied across countries. Focusing upon Argentina and Brazil, two countries that reflect contrasting policy outcomes in promoting F/OSS, I explain why and how different policies came to be adopted by analysing the way in which institutions and patterns of association affected the lobbying power of advocates and opponents of F/OSS promotion. Advocates are generally weak actors, yet they might strengthen their lobbying power through embeddedness within political and state institutions which offer opportunities to mobilise resources and forge ties with political decision-makers. Opponents are generally strong, business actors, yet their lobbying power may be attenuated by weak concentration in business association, reducing their capacity to mobilise and coordinate support. In Argentina, where F/OSS advocates’ institutional embeddedness was weak and concentration in business association was strong, the government was prevented from promoting F/OSS, despite signs that it wished to do so. In Brazil, where F/OSS advocates’ institutional embeddedness was strong and concentration in business association was weak, the government promoted F/OSS despite vociferous opposition from amongst the largest firms in the world.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Ivor Jones
Library of Congress subject classification: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: Shadlen, Ken and Avgerou, Chrisanthi
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3057

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