Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Groklaw: Wallace Anti-GPL Complaint Dismissed

Groklaw has the details up about the dismissal of the Wallace v. FSF complaint. Back in April of 2005, Daniel Wallace filed a complaint in Federal Court against the Free Software Foundation, alleging that the GPL amounted to "price fixing", and prevented him from earning a living selling software. No, really.

Here is the meat of the complaint:
"The Defendant FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION INC has entered into contract and otherwise conspired and agreed with individual software authors and commercial distributors of commodity software products such as Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc. to artificially fix the prices charged for computer software programs through the promotion and use of...the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE."

Anyway, the complaint was dismissed today, with the Judge saying this in the ruling:
"As alleged, the GPL in no way forecloses other operating systems from entering the market. Instead, it merely acts as a means by which certain software may be copied, modified and redistributed without violating the software's copyright protection. As such, the GPL encourages, rather than discourages, free competition and the distribution of computer operating systems, the benefits of which directly pass to consumers. These benefits include lower prices, better access and more innovation."

All I can say is, it's about time. I've written about how proprietary software harms competition, it's nice to see what seems like common sense backed up by the courts. I'm not sure that this will actually strengthen the GPL, since this case doesn't appear to have touched on copyright law, but it will make it a bit harder to promote anti-GPL FUD.

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