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Open Source und Kartellrecht

Die Gültigkeit der Copyleft- und Lizenzgebührverbots-Klauseln angesichts des Art. 101 AEU (sowie der §§ 1 f. GWB)

  1. Arne Nordmeyer

Abstract

„Open source and European antitrust laws: An analysis of copyleft and the prohibition of software license fees on the basis of art. 101 TFEU and the block exemptions“ Open source software and open source licenses (like the GNU GPL) are not only relevant for computer nerds or activists – they are already business. They are for example the fundament of LINUX, the only real rival of MICROSOFT’s WINDOWS-line in the field of operating systems for IBM PC compatibles. Art. 101 TFEU (like the identical predecessor art. 81 TEC) as part of the EU antitrust laws prohibits contract terms like price fixing and some forms of technology control. Are copyleft – the „viral effect“, the „cancer“ – and the interdiction of software license fees in the cross hairs of this legal rule? On the other side the European Union has since 2004 a new Technology Transfer Block Exemption with software license agreements for the first time in its scope: a safe harbour and a dry place under a umbrella for open source software? After the introduction (A) with a description of open source software the following text analyses the system of the European Unions competition law respectivley antitrust law and the requirements of the block exemptions (B). Starting point of antitrust analysis are undertakings – but who are the untertakings (C) in the field of widespread, independent developers as part of the „bazar organization“? To see how much open source has to fear from the law of the European Union, at the end the anti competitive and pro competitive effects of open source are totalized within the legal framework (D). The conclusion (E) shows: not nothing, but not much.

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Any party may pass on this Work by electronic means and make it available for download under the terms and conditions of the Digital Peer Publishing License. The text of the license may be accessed and retrieved at http://www.dipp.nrw.de/lizenzen/dppl/dppl/DPPL_v2_en_06-2004.html.

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