GPL - possible violation - what should I do?

Tomasz Wegrzanowski taw at
Wed Mar 20 17:16:21 UTC 2002

On Wed, Mar 20, 2002 at 06:10:15PM +0100, Giovanni Biscuolo wrote:
> Il mer, 2002-03-20 alle 14:57, Claus F?rber ha scritto:
> > Jan Wildeboer <jan.wildeboer at> schrieb/wrote:
> > > Interesting - Free software can violate antitrust laws? Can you
> > > construct a theoretical example? Just curious :-)
> > 
> > Consider this: Apache changes the licence to GPL. As Apache has a  
> > large market share, 3rd party vendors for WWW server solutions  
> > would have to make their products compatible with Apache.
> > 
> > However, taken the GPL literally, they could not, for example,  
> > write a plugin like mod_fancy_shopping_solution and release that  
> > under a proprietary licence.
> > 
> > So proprietary software vendors could not access that market,  
> > giving an competive advantage to Open Source software vendors.
> They could use a proprietary web server, it's their choice.
> Is this a joke?
> Ciao.

No, this isn't a joke.
Antitrust law applies to anyone who is dominant on a market,
where dominant="more than 40% marketshare" in Poland (It's not defined
in US law). So in Poland Apache Group would be quite restricted in
what they can do, because of their "dominant position on HTTP servers
market". In particular it would be illegal to "restrict competition in
other markets by abusing their dominant position on this market",
that is restricting competition on modules to webserves market because
they have dominant position on webservers market. In particular
aplicability of GPL would be limited by antitrust law.
They might be forced by court to allow some kind of extensions.

I don't know about situation is countries other than PL and US,
but I suppose it's quite similar.

Also I don't think anybody is going to use antitrust law against
some free software, as antitrust law differs so much from country to
country that they would be limited only to a few countries anyway.
They would almost certainly prefer to use some proprietary package.

More information about the Discussion mailing list