Tom Lord, a long time free software advocate, has some interesting proposals on how it might be possible to encourage patrons to sponsor the production of free software.
Usual economic studies relate to the determination of policies for the allocation of scarce resources.
This paper suggests the term "Agalmics" to describe the study of the allocation of non-scarce goods. Computer software, once produced, is a good example of a resource that cannot be considered "scarce."
An essay from one of the authors of GnuCash describing some of the nature of the growth of use of "free software" or "open source software." It suggests that it would not likely lead to any concentrations of vast wealth, even if the use of such software became dominant over proprietary software.
The basic thesis: you don't make money selling Open Source; you instead make or save money by using it.
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