[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..."