Free Software Center Reveals European Commission Underestimates GPL When Analyzing Oracle's Sun Deal

    Representatives of the human rights organization Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) sent a letter to the European Commission stating that the latter underestimated the “strength of the GPL”. The letter was in response to concerns raised by the European Commission over the lack of protection from the GPL regarding competition arising from Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems. The document was sent at the request of an Oracle attorney and will be included in response to the latter at a hearing scheduled for December 10.

    As Eben Moglen, director of SFLC, Columbia University law professor and lawyer at the Free Software Foundation, said: “The GPL was specifically designed to provide software freedom and the ability for everyone to improve it, regardless of who owns the copyright to the code. The main purpose of the license is to eliminate unforeseen risks that can lead to the destruction of code freedom. The drafters of the GNU GPL versions 2 and 3 considered situations similar to the one that the European Commission is now concerned about. The intent of the license, as well as the experience gained in using the GPL, show that the European Commission can count on the proper functionality of the license in situations like this. ”

    Programs released under the GPL, including the Linux kernel, Samba, and GCC, were resistant to anticompetitive behavior on the market. “GPL programs effectively competed with the offerings of the richest and most powerful monopolies in the history of information technology, resisting the efforts of the latter to find vulnerabilities in their licensing protection,” says Moglen.

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