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Lawrence Lessig's Testimony on the Microsoft-DOJ Settlement Posted

Dec 13, 2001, 22:07 (33 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Passacaglia for this link. ]

"Microsoft could play a significant role in resisting this kind of corruption of the Internet's basic values, and could therefore play an important role in preserving the environment for innovation on the net. In particular, under one understanding of Microsoft's current Internet strategy (which I will refer to generally as the ".NET strategy"), Microsoft's architecture would push computing power and network control to the "edge" or "ends" of the network, and away from the network's core. This is consistent with a founding design principle of the early network - what network architects Jerome Saltzer, David Clark, and David Reed call "the end-to-end argument." .NET's possible support of this principle would compete with pressures that now encourage a compromise of the end-to-end design. To the extent Microsoft's strategy resists that compromise, it could become a crucial force in preserving the innovation of the early network.

This is not to say that this benign, pro-competitive design is the only way that Microsoft could implement its .NET strategy. There are other implementations that could certainly continue Microsoft's present threat to competition. And obviously, I am not arguing that anyone should trust Microsoft's representation that it intends one kind of implementation over another. Trust alone is not an adequate remedy to the current antitrust trial.

My point instead is that there is little reason to vilify a company with a strong and powerful interest in a strategy that might well reinforce competition on the Internet - especially when, excepting the open source and free software companies presently competing with Microsoft, few of the other major actors have revealed a similarly pro-Internet strategy. Thus, rather than adopting a remedy that is focused exclusively on the "last war," a proper remedy to the current anti-trust case should be sufficient to steer Microsoft towards its benign strategy, while assuring an adequate response if it fails to follow this pro-competitive lead."

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