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Re: [ox-en] GPL Restrictive

On Thu, 13 Nov 2003, Martin Hardie wrote:

what I am trying to get a handle on is the rhetoric of the different sides of 
this thing.

I read stuff from Microsoft or their ngo (its name I forget) that floss is 
anti competive and the adoption of floss by governments is in breach of some 
competition/free market treaties...

There is a line of US Supreme Court cases that say liberty equals freedom to 
contract and that restraints on this are unconstitutional ... it says more 
than that but it fits in nicely with the reports for example that some US 
Congressmen wanted the gpl banned as it stopped people propertising (sic) 
code.. that is it removes inchoate property from the market (see the link from 
the age below)

That link refers specifically to software developed by government funded
research bodies, which is one of Microsofts targets. Their argument is 'if
tax money funded it, people should be able to use it for any purpose,
including using it within closed source software for sale'. The counter
argument is 'if people have paid for it once in their tax, why should they
be required to pay for it a second time'. I think there are big weaknesses
in that counter argument, but I don't think it helps to look at this as an
overall ideological attack: microsoft have better tactics than that,
they're choosing particular points they think are vulnerable to attack.
Also, this is very specifically a US problem which relates to the way US
public research bodies have handled software in the past (IIRC they are
not allowed to sell it at all; the 2 solutions to this have been
release as public domain - M$'s preferred option - or (especially MITRE)  
under gpl); I don't believe it would be easy to generalise this attack
elsewhere through the law (custom is something else again).



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