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Innovation

Will open source stay non-political?

The last thing I want to do at this stage of my life is become a political reporter. But in covering the open source principle, it seems I'm increasingly drawn toward Washington. Can y'all get me out of this?
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on
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The failure of the SCO suit, more important the quick defense of open source software by major corporations, has protected this growing business from the dreaded stain of politics.

But an open Internet underlies that industry. The ability to reach customers on a par with, say, Microsoft or Oracle, subject only to the limits of their bigger ad budgets, is key to the growth of open source. A project that isn't found makes no sound.

Open spectrum can guarantee an open Internet. If people are free to innovate, building ad hoc networks from the edge, subject only to rules of non-interference enforced through equipment, then it doesn't matter what "service" strategies the Bells and cable operators care to offer, rather than just selling bits. The open Internet will be secure, there will be plenty of bits for all.

But these last two principles, which I consider the guarantors of the open source software industry, are now under attack. They are considered politically controversial.

Partisan lines have been drawn.

You have probably read about the "open Internet issue" under the name network neutrality. Democrats are facing an uphill battle trying to get guaratnees of an open Internet into law. Bell companies object. And Republicans say that any language written into law could boomerang, could be willfully misinterpreted to do the opposite of what advocates want.

Assuming the Bells succeed in gutting net neutrality, you can expect a follow-on battle over open spectrum. The Bell-funded Progress & Freedom Foundation is leading the charge to sell all available spectrum at once. Advocates like Gerry Faulhauber of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School have called this the "big bang."

The last thing I want to do at this stage of my life is become a political reporter. But in covering the open source principle, it seems I'm increasingly drawn toward Washington. Can y'all get me out of this?

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