Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=529862
 
 

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Normative Principles for Evaluating Free and Proprietary Software


Jonathan Zittrain


Harvard Law School and Kennedy School; Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Berkman Center for Internet & Society


University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 71, No. 1

Abstract:     
The production of most mass-market software can be grouped roughly according to free and proprietary development models. These models differ greatly from one another, and their associated licenses tend to insist that new software inherit the characteristics of older software from which it may be derived. Thus the success of one model or another can become self-perpetuating, as older free software is incorporated into later free software and proprietary software is embedded within successive proprietary versions. The competition between the two models is fierce, and the battle between them is no longer simply confined to the market. Claims of improper use of proprietary code within the free GNU/Linux operating system have resulted in multi-billion dollar litigation. This article explains the ways in which free and proprietary software are at odds, and offers a framework by which to assess their value - a prerequisite to determining the extent to which the legal system should take more than a passing, mechanical interest in the doctrinal claims now being pressed against GNU/Linux specifically and free software generally.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 22

Keywords: Free Software, Microsoft, GNU, Linux, Unix, Proprietary Copyright

JEL Classification: O31, O34, O38, O30

Accepted Paper Series


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Date posted: April 13, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Zittrain, Jonathan, Normative Principles for Evaluating Free and Proprietary Software. University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 71, No. 1. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=529862

Contact Information

Jonathan Zittrain (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School and Kennedy School ( email )
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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