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Simon Phipps

With a focus on open source and digital rights, Simon is a director of the UK's Open Rights Group and president of the Open Source Initiative. He is also managing director of UK consulting firm Meshed Insights Ltd.

Open Source Critical To Competition Say Regulators

The DoJ and FCO have jointly agreed that Novell's patents are a threat to open source that needs neutralising.

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News just broke jointly from the US Department of Justice and the German Federal Cartel Office that they have directed CPTN to change the way they acquire Novell's software patents so that the open source community is protected.

This is landmark news for the software freedom community. The Open Source Initiative (where I am a director) and the Free Software Foundation both submitted opinions to the DoJ. Both agreed that the acquisition of Novell's patent portfolio by a consortium comprising Apple, EMC, Microsoft and Oracle presented a threat to the ability of open source software to promote strong competitive markets. It seems the DoJ and FCO agreed with them.

To me, this establishes that:

  • Open source is a crucial market force, ensuring strong competition, and as such deserves regulatory recognition and protection;
  • Software patents pose an anti-competitive threat that deserves regulatory recognition and action;
  • OSI-approved licenses form a suitable basis for regulatory remedies;
  • The collective action of the software freedom community - represented here by OSI, FSF and FSFE - can have an important effect.

This is a landmark in the evolution of open source and the meshed society, and I congratulate the FCO and DoJ on recognising the importance of software freedom.

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