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US Court rules: free software and GPL are legal!

The Register reports that in a recent anti-trust case, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that free software (that’s free as in speech, not beer!) and the General Public License (GPL) under which most free software is released are both legal.

The case was brought by one Daniel Wallace who claimed that since the source code for Linux is free and free software companies have all contributed to the source under the GPL, those companies have formed a predatory pricing conspiracy to force smaller developers out of the market. By giving software away, they have stifled competition, creating an environment where small developers cannot compete. In the plaintiff’s case the GPL functions as the conspiracy element, since it is a common effort to stifle any potential competition.

In his summing up Chief Judge Easterbrook stated that “the GPL and open-source software have nothing to fear from the anti-trust laws.”

The full story can be read in the Register.