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

The FSF is predatory and is not a charity

Author:Brett Glass
Posted:8/25/2000; 12:03:52 PM
Topic:Next survey: Are you an open source developer?
Msg #:20227 (In response to 20222)
Prev/Next:20226 / 20228

Legally the restriction on predatory practice is only true if the business acting in a predatory fashion is a monopoly.

Actually, it's still illegal if the business is trying to become a monopoly, and if there's a "dangerous probability" that the attempt will succeed. (See the judge's verdict in the Microsoft case, citing Spectrum Sports Inc. v. McQuillan, 506 US 447, 456.

The FSF is most certainly trying to become a monopoly, and is already approaching monopoly status in some markets (for example, UNIX C compilers). So much so that Borland, realizing that it can make no money from its C/C++ compilers for Linux, has given up on selling them and is now giving them away -- exactly as Netscape did after the market for its browser was destroyed by Microsoft's predation. The FSF is engaging in precisely the same illegal and predatory business practices as Microsoft.

Stallman further announces his desire to monopolize markets and kill competition with all of his "GNU" projects. In The GNU Manifesto, Stallman states,

GNU will remove operating system software from the realm of competition.

That's pretty damning evidence. And there's plenty more; Stallman frequently says, in public speaking engagements, that his goal is to wipe out all commercial software vendors.

Nevertheless, does the FSF's license for GCC constitute "predation", in the antitrust sense? Consider:

The FSF is not a business;

Nonsense. It sells products (including copies of software, T-shirts, books, etc.), keeps books, has employees, and does everything else a business does. Non-profit corporations are businesses (though the FSF is not a legitimate non-profit because it violates many of the requirements for 501(c)(3) status).

it's a nonprofit charitable organization.

The FSF is not a charity. One of the fundamental requirements for a charity (and one of the criteria that the IRS uses to determine if an organization is a charity) is that it target its benefits at those in need. The FSF distributes software to all and sundry, and thus is not a charity. It also makes most of its income from items unrelated to its claimed "charitable" activities (T-shirts, etc.) and has as its main purpose competition (in this case, unfair, predatory competition) with private business. It is not only not a charity but not a legitimate 501(c)(3). If it has achieved recognition from the IRS as a charity then the IRS should be notified ASAP that it has been misled. Hmmm. I think that I may need to gather some fellow programmers and write a letter asking the IRS to re-examine the FSF.

If you make a modified version of GCC, you don't have to assign your copyright to the FSF.

If you want your changes to be incorporated, you must sign them over.

You will have to abide by the terms of the GPL for redistributing your version, but you still own the copyright on the parts that you created.

And a lot of good it will do you, thanks to the GPL's poison pill.

Many programmers have contributed to GCC and assigned their copyrights to the FSF. Presumably, some of these programmers would not have done so without the "poison pill" of the GPL protecting their selfish interests -- they considered the availability of derivative works to be their compensation for their contributions.

In other words, they hoped to confiscate the work of others.

If an antitrust action forces the FSF to relese GCC under non-GPL terms, how will those programmers be compensated for their work?

By creating better compilers and selling them in a fair market.

--Brett Glass

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