What's so Great About Nothing? The Gnu General Public License and the Zero-Price-Fixing Problem

26 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2006  

Heidi S. Bond

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

This Note argues that Section 2b of the GNU General Public License, which requires that sublicenses be granted at no charge is a permissible price restraint. The justification for this is . . . nothing. Or, rather: a price of nothing on future distributions should be distinguished from non-zero prices.

Although the vast majority of price-fixing is per se illegal, the prohibition on price-fixing arises out of two separate concerns about competition. First, antitrust law tries to protect consumers from higher prices fixed by cartels rather than by a competitive market. Second, antitrust law relies on market competition to produce higher-quality products. A price of nothing, in the context of the GPL, addresses both these worries.

In short, when it comes to the GPL, something's great about nothing.

Keywords: antitrust, linux, GPL, price-fixing

Suggested Citation

Bond, Heidi S., What's so Great About Nothing? The Gnu General Public License and the Zero-Price-Fixing Problem. Michigan Law Review, Vol. 104, December 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=875175

Heidi S. Bond (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

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