Applying EU Open Source Policy in the United States

As we reported previously, a study from the European Commission investigating the impact of open source software (OSS) and hardware estimated that a €1 billion investment in open source software resulted in an impact of between €65 and €95 billion on the European economy. The report also outlined extensive recommendations for enabling future EU growth of open source hardware and software.

A recent article by Frank Nagle for the Brookings Institution further examines the study in terms of U.S. digital infrastructure and in light of the bipartisan infrastructure bill

Nagle looks at how the report’s recommendations might be applied in the United States, noting that “while EU companies and governments have invested over 1 billion euros in OSS/OSH creation, U.S. companies and governments have invested $2.3 billion.” However, he says, “in many respects, the EU and EU member states are already well ahead of the U.S. federal and state governments in terms of supporting and encouraging the development of the OSS/OSH ecosystem.” Nagle says this lag in U.S. policy support is “reflected in the recent congressional efforts on digital infrastructure, which focus on investments in broadband, but largely ignore investments in OSS and OSH.” 

Most of the report’s recommendations can be applied in the United States, Nagle says, but the United States would likely benefit from several in particular, such as building institutional capacity, regulatory clarification, and direct sponsorship of OSS/OSH training opportunities (both in traditional academic environments and continuous learning environments). 

For additional insight regarding the report, check out the following resources and upcoming events: