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Washington Post: The Quiet War Over Open-Source

Aug 21, 2003, 17:00 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Krim)

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"But as technology in general, and the Internet in particular, drives deeper into the fabric of daily life, battles also rage behind the scenes. They are struggles for control over how the Internet should work, over who sets the rules for its pipes and gateways and who owns the material that moves through them. These are the wars fought with armies of corporate lobbyists, technologists and citizen activists but largely ignored by the general public. And none is larger, or carries higher financial stakes, than the issue with the eye-glazing name of intellectual property.

"Consumers are getting a taste of this right now, as the major record companies sue hundreds of people for stealing their works by using file-sharing programs. On another front, 'open-source' software, which relies on collaboration and sharing of computer code rather than traditional for-profit development and distribution of programs, is capturing the attention of cash-strapped governments and businesses as a less-expensive alternative to commercial products.

"Open-source software has been embraced by some companies that are building businesses around it. But it is the bane of others, including the industry's most powerful player, Microsoft Corp. The world's largest software maker is lobbying furiously in state, national and international capitals against laws that would promote the consideration or use of open-source software..."

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