Chapter 7. In Conclusion

While it is widely recognized that major Internet sites are built on an open source platform, and that much of the Internet’s infrastructure is based on open source software, there has been little attention paid to the economic impact of open source. In much the same way that solar energy and other "ecosystem services" are ignored in our economic accounting, open source and the open protocols of the Internet are taken for granted.

It is easy to discount the value of open source software in the success of sophisticated Internet applications such as Google or Facebook; after all, it is their proprietary services that allow them to derive outsized revenues and stock market valuations. In the case of Internet Service Providers, which should properly be considered subscription resellers not just of bandwidth but also of services based on open source software, it is clear that a more significant part of the revenue should be attributed to that software.

But the argument is clearest in the case of the $5 billion/year domain name registry and domain hosting industry. Here, the majority of what is being sold is subscription access to open source software. Yes, there are bandwith and data center costs, but the service being sold is access to that software.

Most compellingly, though, the economic impact of open source software is seen "downstream," in the increased revenues of the Small and Medium Sized Businesses who, because of ready access to open source software platforms ...

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