05 September 2009

Needlessly Needling Neelie

Predictably, the EU's announcement that it would be conducting an "in-depth investigation into proposed takeover of Sun Microsystems by Oracle" has led to a certain amount of mouth-frothing from the free-market side. I don't want to comment on that aspect, since it's as much about political viewpoints as economic analysis, and talking about politics always ends in tears. But I'd just like to point out one interesting detail of Neelie Kroes's statement:

“The Commission has to examine very carefully the effects on competition in Europe when the world's leading proprietary database company proposes to take over the world's leading open source database company."

What's interesting here is that Kroes is juxtaposing proprietary and open source. Now, for you and me, this is reflexive, but for the EU's Competition Commissioner to be framing an extremely contentious intervention in these terms seems pretty stunning to me. It implies that the difference between those two worlds has been interiorised by at least some senior politicians to such an extent that they are using it as a central part of their analysis in major decisions, *without* feeling the need to justify that approach. Whatever your views on other aspects of the decision, I think Kroes deserves some credit for getting to that point.

More importantly, it basically means we're winning, people.

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Roger Lancefield said...

Good point. If our political representatives really are adopting the view that it is "self evident" that open source/FOSS is a beneficial thing that needs to be protected, then this is indeed a big step forward.

Glyn Moody said...

@Roger: and even assuming that they're saying it without believing it (surely not?), it's *still significant that they are even able to articulate the difference.

The Open Sourcerer said...

I too was mightily encouraged and heartened by the language used in the statement.

Their sole concern appears to be with ensuring the protection of a very important Open Source database. Essentially they are stating that FOSS is on an equal footing with proprietary in this case.

In reality, the GPL and the fact MySQL has already been forked several times probably means it is safe anyway, but the language... Oooh. Neelie put a big smile on my face.