The Competing Interests of Open Source and Patents, or Not?

Posted By: Aidan L. Clark

Copyleft_imageSome would say that open source software and protection of intellectual property rights, in the form of patents, could not exist in the same sphere. The idea behind open source software is to encourage innovation by the free exchange of code. The idea behind patenting software is to encourage innovation by granting the inventor a limited-in-time monopoly on their software. Both methods provide a way for the innovative technology to be introduced into the public domain. And with both methods, certain restrictions are placed on both the authors of the code, and those that wish to use it. Can open source software and patented software exists in the same sphere?

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BITCOIN Hidden Market?

Posted by:  Forencia Todaro


bitcoin2Bitcoin is the P2P electronic money and payment network, which offers the “advantage” of no controls; but does really work like that?
The online currency is enjoying a record on her value; it recently reached the price of gold. The benefits for illegal markets started to be in discussion.  The latest cases exposed how the currency is used for ´dark market´, and consequently FBI intervened. The FBI intervention added to the debate concerning individual privacy. Continue reading

How Do You Compete With Free?

Posted by:  Taylor Durbin


500px-NewTux.svgLinux is a free open source operating system that is controlled by the General Public Lease (“GPL”). This lease allows for the creation of derivative works stemming from the core coding of Linux as long as it remains free. The GPL allows people and companies to charge for installation and tech support as long as the software itself remains free. Companies such as Red Hat, have earned great profits from making their own versions of Linux which they offer for free and then charge for the installation and maintenance of the software.

In an opinion out of the Seventh Circuit, the Plaintiff a would be producer of a Linux derivative challenged this business model of Red Hat as a violation of the antitrust laws. Wallace claimed that the GPL was a conspiracy between Red Hat, IBM, Novell, and the authors of the GPL to illegally restrain competition. The court threw out his conspiracy claim for lack of standing and ruled against his predatory pricing claim, primarily on the grounds Linux will always remain free under the GPL so there is no chance of prices being raised to monopoly levels after competition is gone. The seventh circuit believes that, “The GPL and open-source software have nothing to fear from the antitrust laws.” I disagree with this statement for several reasons. Continue reading

The Rise of Open Source and Copyleft

Posted by: Lauren Proper


500px-GPLv3_Logo.svgFree markets are generally accepted as providing the greatest opportunity for consumers of goods to obtain the best quality for the lowest prices. A free market economy is not without its flaws, however. The idealistic economic philosophy first propagated by Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” has proven more theoretically appealing than functional without regulation. Issues with a free market economy include the effects of greed on price fixing and harm to consumers, race-to-the-bottom incentives that decrease consumer safety and difficulty competing with well-established distributors of goods in ways that can create monopolies or oligopolies.

Free markets do not exist solely for goods. Today, information is traded in much the same way tangible goods are. Free market economies for information suffer from the same issues that afflict free market economies for tangible goods. Some people’s desire to commercialize and profit lead to restrictions which in turn harm consumers. In an information economy, the harm to consumers deprives them of access and disadvantages people who do not have access to a wealth of information.

Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler distinguishes economies for goods from economies for information in his book “The Wealth of Networks.” Whereas a traditional good (Benkler refers to them as “rival products”) is depleted with use, nonrival products can be used repeatedly without any degradation. Nonrival products, Benkler posits, become perhaps the primary goods of social import in advanced economies. The immeasurable social and cultural importance of increased access to these goods forms the basis for Benkler to advocate for open source. To illustrate his point, Benkler posted “The Wealth of Networks” online under a Creative Commons license to allow readers to edit, augment or comment upon his work as an example of the societal benefits of peer collaboration. Continue reading

What Copyright is left in Copyleft?

Posted by: Daniela Madrid

Copyleft_image    An author of an original expression of work is granted many rights in his or her work through the federal Copyright Act of 1976. The author is granted many exclusive rights such as the right to sell, distribute, display, and perform. The author also controls any derivative work. The author is automatically granted these rights when the author puts the work in a fixed medium. Everyone, other than the author, is restricted from using the work without first obtaining permission from the author. But what happens when the author wants to make the work available to anyone and everyone? This issue arouse in the computer software industry and the free software movement was initiated in 1983 as a result. Continue reading