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Open Source Law: The Forkin' Fallacy

Feb 01, 2005, 01:00 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brendan Scott)

[ Thanks to Brendan Scott for this link. ]

"One meme which has previously enjoyed some popularity is the idea that Linux is prone to, or likely to, 'fork'--that is, to split into a number of separate, possibly competing, branches. Ironically, this argument is based on Linux's greatest strength--its licensing terms. The argument is that forks can arise because Linux's license at least inhibits, and possibly prevents, forced centralized control of strategic direction of the Linux kernel. Having asserted that the licencing permits the creation of forks the argument continues, by reference to the UNIX Wars of the multiplicity of Linux distributions, that this is a bad thing. In this paper we argue that the licensing regime for Linux is its great strength and that, over the long term, it encourages consolidation. We argue further that the creation of forks under these licensing terms promotes innovation and competition and is therefore a good thing both for Linux and for the economy..."

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