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back to article Open sourcerers do battle for GPLv3

Open source luminary Bruce Perens has come out fighting in defence of the latest draft of GPLv3. The draft, which seeks to prevent patent protection deals like that struck late last year by Microsoft and Novell, has come under heavy fire from proprietary software advocates such as the ACT (Association for Competitive Technology …

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Antitrust & GPLv3

The Wilder paper is actually pretty interesting. The defining characteristic of antitrust law is its relentless focus on consumer welfare. The GPL, it can be argued, affronts this in two ways: (1) Its focus on the desires of the producers at the expense of consumers -- thus the MSFT-NOVL deal is attacked despite its endorsement by the customers; (2) More importantly -- not only the FSF is involved. There are MANY very big commerical enterprises in this. Looking at the Linux Foundation's Board of Directors (http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Board) should be enough to give any antitrust lawyer an anxiety attack. The real juice behind the open source movement has always been the money put in by companies that want to make the operating system a commodity so that they can get more of the revenues for their hardware and services. These companies are already very close to the antitrust cliff -- organizing an MSFT-NOVL boycott could put them over, droll as it might be to think of MSFT as an antitrust plaintiff.

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Microsoft friend, Mr DeLong

Mr DeLong, you need a refresh course on economics, you should be able to tell when a company is resorting to a loss leader strategy for their business model.

Microsoft knows well the loss leader business, which it has used very effectively many times, so you will probably want to read a bit about it.

The problem is, it's not Microsoft who are doing the strategy now, it is Microsoft who are suffering from it, an uncomfortable place to be.

Another thing: since the companies support a base standard (Linux) but neither of them really owns the product, you are really way off-base here.

This is the way open standards have been run for decades.

Your comments make it seem like standards groups are nothing but a cartel boycotting companies.

Four your information, Novell, the company that has signed a deal with Microsoft, is part of these organisations too.

So anything you say or do against the said organisations is hurting Novell too.

Where would your comments leave the Business Software Alliance then ?

I'm sure Microsoft doesn't want to go down this path.

There's no way you can support your claims with historical evidence, but acknowledgely, you're doing a nice job helping your friend Microsoft.

For Microsoft, it didn't have to be this way, they could have greatly benefited from Linux too, but their shortsightedness and culture of domination will necessarily hurt their business.

Get the facts.

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Jim

Open source is not corporate entity

"The Wilder paper is actually pretty interesting. The defining characteristic of antitrust law is its relentless focus on consumer welfare".

As we may not have read the Wilder paper, it might be interesting to know the real relationship the paper and the relentless focus on consumer welfare. All I personally know is that an ACT representative was present at the Massachusetts ODF meetings. It is hard not hard to guess from the audio and transcripts that rather representing the best interest of consumers, they were representing the best interests of Microsoft.

"The GPL, it can be argued, affronts this in two ways: (1) Its focus on the desires of the producers at the expense of consumers -- thus the MSFT-NOVL deal is attacked despite its endorsement by the customers"

A basic understanding that the GPLv3 has to be adopted by the developers who actually make the software. In a sense they are the producers, but not in the way that is suggested. Just because "endorsement by consumers" is stated, doesn't mean it is true. The statement is equivalent to stating that because patent trolls get money from their patents that the producers that pay licensing believe that the patent is valid. The reality is that is just easier to license than fight it in court.

Attacking the deal is more about keeping open source open. If the Novell/Microsoft deal is looked at subjectively, the whole basis is of the agreement deals with avoiding threats and intimidation regarding software patents which doesn't have any real value for the consumer.

"(2) More importantly -- not only the FSF is involved. There are MANY very big commerical enterprises in this. Looking at the Linux Foundation's Board of Directors (http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Board) should be enough to give any antitrust lawyer an anxiety attack"

I don't get the link between antitrust and a bunch of vendors who have similar interests. According to wikipedia, "Antitrust laws, or competition laws, are laws which prohibit anti-competitive behavior and unfair business practices. The laws make illegal certain practices deemed to hurt businesses or consumers or both, or generally to violate standards of ethical behavior" Now again consider the Microsoft/Novell deal where Microsoft won't sue you as long as you use Novells version of Linux and say with a straight face that in itself couldn't considered antitrust.

"The real juice behind the open source movement has always been the money put in by companies that want to make the operating system a commodity so that they can get more of the revenues for their hardware and services. These companies are already very close to the antitrust cliff -- organizing an MSFT-NOVL boycott could put them over, droll as it might be to think of MSFT as an antitrust plaintiff"

The argument seems to suggest that open source is somehow owned by companies that want to make it a commodity. The reality is however that the "juice" is in the majority of developers who contribute to open source without compensation. So while big corporations certainly have a lot of money to throw around, they still have to work with the developers who actually own the software these corporations want to endorse. Open source is rather a collaboration between the owners and the large corporations who see it as being in their best interest to protect and promote it.

In essence, if the owner of the software chooses to go with the new license, it is their choice and the big corporations can only encourage the adoption. We then have to then consider that there are thousands of open source packages out there and each author has the right to choose the licensing for their software. In the end, there isn't any way that an authors choice of license will ever result in an antitrust case where Microsoft could be a plaintiff against any company that is represented on the FSF board of directors.

The reality is that open source will continue to grow in popularity and as a result, so will the number of contributions to it. The GPLv3 is being drafted based not so much on what corporations want, but rather those in the community who will have biggest say in accepting or rejecting the license.

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