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Wallace's Anti-GPL Suit Loses Again

IBM, Red Hat, and Novell Named in Suit that Goes Down in Flames

Daniel Wallace's second anti-GPL suit accusing IBM, Red Hat and Novell of predatory price-fixing and restraint of trade has gone down in flames like his first against the Free Software Foundation, which wrote the license.

Larry Rosen - author of Open Source Licensing - has gone on the record in the past as follows:

"To propose, as...Daniel Wallace now apparently does, that the license creates 'a restraint of trade,' is to misrepresent the legal and business situations that drive license diversity. The GPL is chosen, not forced."
Rosen also dismissed Wallace's suit, in May of last year, as "bunk," telling Groklaw: 
"The conscious effort of the free software community to deliver 'free' software shouldn't in any way impede Mr. Wallace's efforts to sell his at a higher price, assuming his software is better."
The second decision came from a different judge in the Southern District of Indiana and, like the first judge and the FSF complaint, he found that Wallace didn't properly state a claim. He said he accepted the allegations as true but that Wallace didn't allege anticompetitive effects in an identifiable market by arguing that it stopped him from marketing his own OS and dismissed the case with prejudice figuring Wallace couldn't remedy the deficiencies.

The judge wrote that "Antitrust laws are for 'the protection of competition, not competitors.' In this case, the GPL benefits consumers by allowing for the distribution of software at no cost, other than the cost of the media on which the software is distributed:
'When the plaintiff is a poor champion of consumers, a court must be especially careful not to grant relief that may undercut the proper function of antitrust.' Because he has not identified an anticompetitive effect, Wallace has failed to allege a cognizable antitrust injury."
This story is based on material from a variety of sources including: Wikipedia, Groklaw.net, Client Server News, and Answers.com.

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Neil Lewis 05/21/06 06:31:02 PM EDT

Welcome as the result is, I can't help feeling that the judge is confused. Nothing in the GPL makes it intrinsically restricted to distribution "free of charge". Rather, it is about "freedom" itself. Statements which imply that the GPL is just about cost are misleading and ultimately counterproductive. We surely need people to recognise that freedom to use, study and improve are far more important.