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Re: EASTERBROOK's "quick look" on the GPL and Wallace's claim

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: EASTERBROOK's "quick look" on the GPL and Wallace's claim
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2006 01:25:36 +0100


Does Open Source Software Violate Antitrust Laws?

Wallace v. International Bus. Mach., 06-2454 (7th Cir., Nov. 9, 2006)

This Seventh Circuit decision addresses an interesting issue at the
intersection of intellectual property and antitrust law: does open
source software violate federal antitrust law? Led by Linux, the OSS
folks provide free software subject to a General Public License. The GPL
allows users to distribute the software and make derivative works, but
the GPL must carry over to any such works. The idealists of the OSS
movement hope that one day, all software will be free and monopolistic
companies like Microsoft will be out of business.

Sounds like nirvana, right? Well, not to software engineers like Daniel
Wallace. Wallace wants to create and profit from his own software, but
he claims that companies using OSS (like IBM and Novell) are conspiring
to keep innovators like him out of the market via their mandatory GPL
licensing terms and their price fixing. How can any new entrants to the
market hope to compete with a free product? So he sued under federal
antitrust law.

The district court dismissed the suit because Wallace is a producer, not
a consumer. On appeal to the Seventh Circuit, the Court explains that
producers like Wallace do have standing to bring antitrust claims. But
the Court affirms on the merits. Writing for the Court, Judge
Easterbrook derides Wallace's claims as simply silly. The opinion is a
mere seven pages, but you can bet that every software company in the
country will be paying close attention to this important decision.

// posted by Robert Loblaw @ Thursday, November 09, 2006 0 comments
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