Siva Viyahadyanathan wrote an excellent introductory book to US Copyright, the DMCA etc a few years back titled Copyrights & Copywrongs. Here he is again with an article on Open Source.
“Abstract: The Open Source model of peer production, sharing, revision, and peer review has distilled and labeled the most successful human creative habits into a techno- political movement. This distillation has had costs and benefits. It has been dif cult to court mainstream acceptance for such a tangle of seemingly technical ideas when its chief advocates have been hackers and academics. On the other hand, the brilliant success of overtly labeled Open Source experiments, coupled with the horror stories of attempts to protect the proprietary model of cultural production have served to popularize the ideas championed by the movement. In recent years, we have seen the Open Source model overtly mimicked within domains of culture quite distinct from computer software. Rather than being revolutionary, this movement is quite conservatively recapturing and revalorizing the basic human communicative and cultural processes that have generated many good things.”