Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Free Labor on the Internet

Author:Jacob Savin
Posted:9/7/1999; 12:30:22 PM
Topic:Today's scriptingNews Outline
Msg #:10686 (In response to 10657)
Prev/Next:10685 / 10687

The Wall Street Journal article states:

...Critics warn these businesses are profiting from unpaid labor. According to some labor attorneys, this violates the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires for-profit corporations to pay at least a minimum wage to anyone who contributes labor.

I tend to wonder a bit about what reprecussions the Fair Labor Standards Act may have on Open Source projects and companies who profit from the efforts of Open Source programmers. The example that comes immediately to mind is that of Red Hat Linux: Of course there is a value-add in having simpler installation, and support services, but these "products" wouldn't exist without the Open Source software, created through the labor of love, not money, of hundreds of people. I worry that if the lawyers get into this, there may be a dangerous precident set.

The article failed to even ask this question, even though both Linux and Apache were mentioned:

"Like Linux or Apache, two software movements that solicit outside software developers to improve the products, Netscape said its Open Directory Project is another example of using the Web to advance innovation..."

I'm no lawyer, so I don't fully understand all the legal issues involved, but it seems blatantly obvious to me, that any legislation or court decisions on this issue, in either direction, could have large consequences for the Open Source movement.

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