What's so Great About Nothing? The Gnu General Public License and the Zero-Price-Fixing Problem
26 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2006
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
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