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Opinion: As free innovation encounters health care regulation, think ‘soft laws’

The concept of free innovation has entered the technology lexicon, particularly when it comes to health care. The term refers to innovations developed in creators’ personal time and unprotected by patent or copyright. Hundreds of examples are visible on platforms like Arduino and Hackaday.

Free innovation is a variation on the decentralized supply and demand found in traditional markets. As in some other unconventional markets, it’s driven by motives besides the immediate monetary rewards directly attributable to product distribution. (Some indirect monetary rewards, like advertisements on a development site, sale of user data, or payoffs from resume-building, might be part of the equation.)

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