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CNET News: Open Source or No: Let the Market Decide

Jul 23, 2003, 02:30 (39 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by James V. DeLong)

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[Editor's Note: James V. DeLong is a director of the Center for the Study of Digital Property at The Progress & Freedom Foundation in Washington, D.C. The PFF's supporter list includes AOL Time Warner, IBM, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems. -BKP]

"The latest anti-Americanism to sweep Europe is a broad hostility toward computer software that's produced by proprietary companies, mostly American, and an enthusiasm for 'open source' software--programs written by networks of volunteers for which code is free, open to inspection and modifiable by any savvy user.

"International bodies, national governments and lesser political subdivisions are moving to legislate preferences for open-source over proprietary software. The proposals range in strength from mild boosts to complete mandates. At the moment, some 80 provisions are on the table in 40 different nations, including in the United States, where Oregon, Texas, and New York City are involved.

"Offhand, one might wonder why any legally mandated preference would be necessary. 'Would you like to pay for this software, or would you rather get it free?' is a question that seems to have only one answer..."

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