The Un-Microsoft Un-Remedy: Law Can Prevent the Problem it Can't Patch

14 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 1999  

Jonathan L. Zittrain

Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Berkman Center for Internet & Society; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

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Abstract

Microsoft has brilliantly exploited its current control of the personal computer operating system (OS) market to grant itself advantages towards controlling tomorrow's operating system market as well. This is made possible by the control Microsoft has asserted over user "defaults," a power Microsoft possesses thanks to a combination of (1) Windows' high market share, (2) the "network effects" that make switching to an alternative so difficult for any given consumer or computer manufacturer, and (3) software copyright, which largely prevents competitors from generating software that defeats network effects. The author suggests a much-reduced term of copyright for computer software--from 95 years to around five years--as a means of preventing antitrust problems before they arise.

Suggested Citation

Zittrain, Jonathan L., The Un-Microsoft Un-Remedy: Law Can Prevent the Problem it Can't Patch. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=174110 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.174110

Jonathan Zittrain (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government ( 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

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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