Free Software and the Law - Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire: How Shaking Up Intellectual Property Suits Competition Law Just Fine
Swinburne University of Technology
August 2, 2013
Journal of Peer Production, Issue #3 The Critical Power of Free Software
Free software is viewed as a revolutionary and subversive practice, and in particular has dealt a strong blow to the traditional conception of intellectual property law (although in its current form could be considered a 'hack' of IP rights). However, other (capitalist) areas of law have been swift to embrace free software, or at least incorporate it into its own tenets. One area in particular is that of competition (antitrust) law, which itself has long been in theoretical conflict with intellectual property, due to the restriction on competition inherent in the grant of ‘monopoly’ rights by copyrights, patents and trademarks. This contribution will examine how competition law has approached free software by examining instances in which courts have had to deal with such initiatives, for instance in the Oracle Sun Systems merger, and the implications that these decisions have on free software initiatives. The presence or absence of corporate involvement in initiatives will be an important factor in this investigation, with it being posited that true instances of ‘commons-based peer production’ can still subvert the capitalist system, including perplexing its laws beyond intellectual property.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 6
Keywords: free software, intellectual property, competition law, antitrust, critical legal studiesAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 4, 2013 ; Last revised: January 15, 2014
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