[TriLUG] A little off topic
aperrin at email.unc.edu
Fri Sep 7 11:38:16 EDT 2001
I have to agree that breaking up Microsoft seems a useless remedy --
particularly breaking it up into an applications business and an OS
business, since then we'd just have two companies with monopolies in
separate markets. No improvement. I'd prefer a remedy that makes the
Windows code open-source and assigns its maintenance to a neutral
standards body. Then MS and anyone else who wanted to could sell Windows,
meaning software implementations of the published standard. And one could
have a Windows for Linux (G-d forbid) by writing software that implements
the standard under X.
I'm certainly no constitutional scholar, so I won't comment on the
constitutional basis of antitrust laws. But those laws do exist, they have
been enforced for many years, and they are generally considered to be
pro-free-market, since monopolies can easily be shown to inhibit the
proper functioning of a market. IMHO the best direct example is the case
against Kodak, which forced the company to stop bundling photo processing
with film, since Kodak's monopoly in film was giving it anticompetitive
advantage in the photo processing market. The argument in both cases is
not that it's bad *in general* to bundle one product with another, or that
it's illegal to do so *in general*, or that the bundling makes the product
worse for consumers. Rather, it's that the bundling allows monoply holders
to leverage their existing monopoly in one market to force competitors out
of a different market.
Just my 2c.
Andrew J Perrin - andrew_perrin at unc.edu - http://www.unc.edu/~aperrin
Assistant Professor of Sociology, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
269 Hamilton Hall, CB#3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210 USA
On Fri, 7 Sep 2001, Bill Vinson wrote:
> First off, let me say we should keep this discussion friendly and
> productive :)
> On Fri, 07 Sep 2001, rpjday wrote:
> > and now that you've finished frothing at the mouth, allow me to
> > enlighten you. the issue here is not whether the federal government
> > has the right to tell Microsoft how to run its business. the issue
> > is whether the federal government has the power to tell microsoft
> > to *stop* *breaking* *the* *law*.
> > did i type that slowly enough for you?
> > i am thoroughly tired of people who, apparently without a clue, keep
> > harping on how the government should get off microsoft's case, leave
> > them alone, stop telling them how to run their business, etc, etc.
> > blah blah...
> > the issue here is very simple: microsoft broke the law. this is not
> > in dispute -- it's been established beyond any reasonable doubt that
> > microsoft abused their monopoly position using tactics like predatory
> > pricing, exclusionary contracts and so on, to cripple and/or outright
> > destroy their competitors.
> > the issue now before the courts is -- what should the punishment be?
> > that's what you get when you *break* *the* *law*. is this starting
> > to make any sense?
> I don't have any doubt that they have broken the law. However, Justin
> is correct in stating that the constitution does not give the government
> the right to interfere. However, various federal and state laws do as
> does the Sherman Antitrust Act. I don't believe that bundling IE with
> Windows should be illegal. I believe that bundling does improve the
> product. What I don't agree with is their
> agreements/licenses/unremovable bundled applications. They have bundled
> which is fine, but they attempted to make the bundling become a weapon
> that could defeat the competition by not allowing their customers to
> unbundle and include competing products. I believe this is where we get
> into the monopolistic behavior in this instance.
> M$ is definitely predatory, but the bundling of IE in itself was not
> wrong. I don't belive breaking the company is necessarily warranted,
> nor do I believe it will work in ANY WAY. There are other remedies and
> it is shown that broken up companies continue to thrive historically,
> whereas remediated companies can find that their power over the
> competition is cut out from under them.
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