The Role of OSS in Development of Software Industry in Developing Countries with Weak Intellectual Property Rights

The Role of OSS in Development of Software Industry in Developing Countries with Weak Intellectual Property Rights

Nasrin Dastranj (Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran), Sepehr Ghazinoory (Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran), Fatemeh Saghafi (University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran) and Mona Rashidirad (University of Brighton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSMET.2016010104
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One of the areas of significant importance in the growth of Information Technology (IT) in the world is the issue of open source software. The movement of open source software has led to considerable advancement and transformation in the world's IT industry. It is considered as one of the hotly-debated issues today. In Iran, open source software has recently received remarkable attention due to its many advantages. In this study, the problems of software industry in Iran, the opportunities created by using open source software, and the impacts and advantages of producing local open source operating system have been addressed through semi-structured interviews with the producers of local operating system and experts of open source software. Solving security problems, attending international markets, creating the spirit of cooperation and team work and flourishing the software business are some of the main impacts of producing open source software in Iran.
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1. Introduction

Various advantages of open source software(OSS), such as creativity, decreasing digital divide, transferring technology and reducing dependence have led to the rapid adoption of this software in the world, particularly in developing countries. OSS have more applications such as GIS (Neteler and Mitasova, 2013), PACS (Ratib, et. Al. 2011) and its applications (Duffard, et. Al., 2014). In Iran, OSS has recently received attention, due to its many advantages, and it is hoped to mitigate the problems of the software industry in this country as a developing country (Saghafi, 2009).

So far, extensive studies have been conducted on the problems of software and IT systems in the world, but the most important and practical study is that of Heeks (2002). It classifies these problems in developing countries into seven main categories of Information, Technology, Processes, Objectives and motivations, Skills, Management Systems, human resources, and other resources, which is known as ITPOMOSO model. Also, in a study conducted by the Majlis research centre in Iran (Research Centre of IPI, 2010), after comparative study of different countries, the challenges of software industry were classified into nine groups:(1) Lack of expert and skilled human resources; (2) cultural challenges; (3) education, research and development; (4) lack of appropriate laws and regulations for the intellectual property of software; (5) shortage of financial resources for investment in software industry; (6) existence of high risks in this sector; (7) management of challenges including lack of a single administrator in software industry and presence of several managers with different and sometime opposing views, lack of sufficient infrastructures such as Internet network for offering network-based software; (8) environmental problems of Iranian companies in entering software markets of the region, and (9) lack of standards and software confirming licenses. Investigations of the licenses of practical software products, such as Windows, indicate that the usage of this software in the sanctioned countries is forbidden and the user does not receive any security and practical support. In a research conducted by Iran Telecommunication research centre (ITRC, 2011), the challenges of software industry, especially in the area of OSS, were collected and presented through reviewing the literature, interviews, and brainstorming sessions. This report is in line with the two studies mentioned above emphasizing the lack of government’s sustainable support of software development, opposition of the proposed institute(s) with government policies, lack of participation of influential institutes, and challenges caused by sanctions.

The sanctions against Iran can be addressed from different aspects in relation to software industry. Seizing supports of the software, especially in the case of key and infrastructural software, such as operating system, can lead to systems breakdown in the country. Limitations in accessing specialized software in the area of modern technologies can pose problems for the advancement of technology. The opportunities for attending international markets for selling produced software and interacting with foreign producers can somewhat solve this problem. However, this factor, associated with some other internal factors affecting foreign policies, such as international interactions, and instability of foreign policies in this area on the one hand, and presence of strong rivals in the region on the other hand, can be regarded as a threat to Iran’s software industry.

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