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DOJ Nixes Lax Policy, Hardens Antitrust Enforcement

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the new-sheriff-in-town dept.

Government 249

eldavojohn writes "A policy from the Bush era seen as a hurdle to the government prosecuting companies under antitrust laws has been withdrawn by Obama's Department of Justice. From the article: 'The DOJ's Antitrust Division has withdrawn a September report that "raised too many hurdles to government antitrust enforcement and favored extreme caution" toward antitrust enforcement action, the DOJ said. The change in policy could mean that the department looks harder at the actions of technology vendors such as Google, Oracle and IBM, as detractors have raised antitrust concerns about all three in recent months.' You may recall that Google has come under some antitrust scrutiny recently and the pressure may have just gotten a little more intense."

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ehhhh.. (-1, Troll)

evolx10 (679412) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915961)

Can't Gov't just go find something else to do.....trust bust THEEZEE!

Welcome to Niggerbuntu (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916367)

Niggerbuntu is a Linux-based operating system consisting of Free and Open Source software for laptops, desktops, and servers. Niggerbuntu has a clear focus on the user and usability - it should "Just Work", even if the user has only the thinking capacities of a sponge. The OS ships with the latest Gnomrilla release as well as a selection of server and desktop software that makes for a comfortable desktop experience off a single installation CD. It also features the packaging manager apeghetto, and the challenging Linux manual pages have been reformatted into the new 'monkey' format, so for example the manual for the shutdown command can be accessed just by typing: 'monkey shut-up -h now mothafukka' instead of 'man shutdown'.

Absolutely Free of Charge

Niggerbuntu is Free Software, and available to you free of charge, as in free beer or free stuffs you can get from looting. It's also Free in the sense of giving you rights of Software Freedom. The freedom to run, copy, steal, distribute, share, change the software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.

Free software as in free beer!

Niggerbuntu is an ancient Nigger word, meaning "humanity to monkeys". Niggerbuntu also means "I am what I am because of how apes behave". The Niggerbuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Niggerbuntu to the software world. The dictator Bokassa described Niggerbuntu in the following way: "A subhuman with Niggerbuntu is open and available to others (like a white bitch you're ready to fsck), affirming of others, does not feel threatened by the fact that others species are more intelligent than we are, for it has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that it belongs to the great monkey specie." We chose the name Niggerbuntu for this distribution because we think it captures perfectly the spirit of sharing and looting that is at the heart of the open source movement.

Neat (5, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915969)

Can we finally have Microsoft cut in two now, please?

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27915991)

This would be good for what reason exactly?

Re:Neat (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916209)

Because I should be able to use the Windows Kernel with X, the Windows API on Linux, and Office on Free BSD. If the same company owns all of these products (and has near monopolies on all of them) there is no room for any competition.

The kernel, office software, and window manager/X-equivalent components should be compatible with alternatives. That would be called competition. What we have now is called a monopoly.

Re:Neat (0, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916283)

I should be able to use the Windows Kernel with X, the Windows API on Linux, and Office on Free BSD.

What entitles you to other people's work on terms of your choosing?

-jcr

Re:Neat (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916317)

What entitles you to other people's work on terms of your choosing?

What doesn't?

The law? That cuts both ways.

Re:Neat (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916329)

What entitles you to other people's work on terms of your choosing?

That's not what he said and you know it. Don't be an ass.

Re:Neat (2, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916365)

Of course not. He directly listed his terms and said that's how it should be; the GP just questioned him on the basic assumption implied by that.

Re:Neat (2, Informative)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916757)

He implied he'd be willing to pay a reasonable price for the individual components. Presumably, if the components were individualized, other people would also be willing to pay whatever they see as reasonable, and if MS-I, MS-II, and/or MS-III couldn't figure that out, they'd go out of business.

Re:Neat (0)

theillien (984847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917457)

The only thing that was implied is that he'd like to use the components on different platforms. There was no mention of monetary compensation.

Re:Neat (-1, Flamebait)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916397)

That's not what he said and you know it.

It's exactly what he asked for, and you know it.

Don't be an ass.

That's advice you would do well to follow.

-jcr

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916731)

Flamebait? What did he do -- support Microsoft??

Re:Neat (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917093)

It's exactly what he asked for, and you know it.

Sweet! You're a parser who loves to ignore context. You guys almost make furries look good.

That's advice you would do well to follow.

Barking up the wrong tree there, you hideous freak.

Re:Neat (0, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917219)

Barking up the wrong tree there, you hideous freak.

Somehow I find it rather a relief to know that you find me unattractive.

-jcr

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27917163)

Assholes like that can't help themselves.

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916581)

The laws of supply and demand. They cut both ways.

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916593)

So you think that if you buy a car from Ford, then you should only be able to use CDs from Ford? Pretend for the sake of argument that the vast majority of cars in the world were sold by Ford.

Or do you actually understand what antitrust [wikipedia.org] means? Specifically, this behavior is

abusive behaviour by a firm dominating a market

I understand you are a libertarian, but that doesn't mean you have to agree with "might makes right."

Re:Neat (1, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916653)

So you think that if you buy a car from Ford, then you should only be able to use CDs from Ford?

That's one of the more absurd analogies I've seen in the last year or so. It's more like, Ford gets to decide what they want to offer, and you don't get to compel them to offer what you want. You only get to choose to to business with them or not.

I understand you are a libertarian, but that doesn't mean you have to agree with "might makes right."

Your straw man needs a bit more stuffing, sport. I didn't say anything at all along the lines of "might makes right".

-jcr

Re:Neat (5, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916755)

Never before have two people worked so hard to be completely wrong while disagreeing on everything.

Kudos to you both, really. It's funny when people are this stupid.

Re:Neat (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916919)

Mod parent up! Just because two people disagree doesn't mean one of them has to be right!

Re:Neat (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27917059)

That's one of the more absurd analogies I've seen in the last year or so.

Ok. Sorry. I forgot that you aren't going to cut me slack and try to understand what I'm saying, instead you are going to axiomatically deflect my arguments. Let me break it down for you: hypothetical car monopoly A could install a technical measure to prevent CDs that were not purchased from A from playing. Your argument

What entitles you to other people's work on terms of your choosing?

applies equally well in this situation. I.e., you are saying that A's capacity to prevent CDs purchased from competitors (that is, "might") makes it ok (i.e., "makes it right"). Your notion that each individual has the right to enter into any deal they wish allows for abuses.* In fact, it is so well recognized that laws, under the name "antitrust" were written. As an exercise for the reader, you can look up the abuses committed in the early 20th century.

Perhaps you can argue that CD's and cars are disparately different items, and subject to monopoly "bundling" protections, whereas two more closely related things such as the kernel and window manager can be "bundled." This would be a valid argument. In fact, decisions have been made that web browsers and OS's cannot be bundled; whether window managers and OS's can be bundled is a question for the courtroom. I know which side I stand, however.

*This idea you have stated is the bedrock of free market capitalism. It works very well in perfect competition. Notice, however, that not all markets admit perfect competition. In these cases, free market rules do not apply. Your morality (entering freely into agreements, etc.) may work well on the scale of 10 to 20 people. However, it does not work well with hundreds of millions of people. Additional effects come into play, and such simple rules, unfortunately, do not cut it.

I didn't say anything at all along the lines of "might makes right".

It terrifies me that you Ayn Rand people don't even understand your own philosophy.

Re:Neat (0, Flamebait)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917159)

It terrifies me that you Ayn Rand people don't even understand your own philosophy.

I understand my philosophy, as well as Ayn Rand's quite well, anonymous pinkbot. Your confusion is your own problem.

-jcr

Re:Neat (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917283)

Your morality (entering freely into agreements, etc.) may work well on the scale of 10 to 20 people. However, it does not work well with hundreds of millions of people.

You have that exactly backwards. Freedom scales perfectly well, while command economies don't, as the collapse of the soviets and all empires before them so plainly demonstrates.

-jcr

Re:Neat (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916881)

Yet another automobile analogy (large cars):

I can haz a Kenworth with a Caterpillar, Detroit, or a Cummins engine.

I can haz a Peterbilt with a Caterpillar, Detroit, or a Cummins engine.

I can haz a Freightliner with a Caterpillar, Detroit, or a Cummins engine.

I can haz a Mack with a Caterpillar, Detroit, Cummins, OR a Mack engine.

Stepping down to the smaller, cheaper modes of transportation,

I can haz a Ford Taurus with a 4 cyl, 6 cyl, or even an 8 cyl engine, automatic or 5 speed, with a variety of rearends. I can even have a GM or Chrysler engine under the hood, if I choose to invest the time and/or money to do so.

What gives Microsoft the right to say what I may or may not install on their operating system? What gives them the right to say that I CANNOT use their API's, or their file system, or their office suite on Linux, OS2, Solaris, or whatever I CHOOSE?

MS never had the right to put a string into Windows that checked fro MS-DOS, then refused to install if the DOS was from some other company.

It's far past time to break the monopoly. AT&T was probably the most benevolent monopoly in American history, and it was broken up. Microsoft's breakup is long overdue.

Re:Neat (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916937)

What entitles you to other people's work on terms of your choosing?

Microsoft is a public corporation with high revenues and taxes, and a monopoly, and as such exerts an undue influence over the market and in fact the government. As a corporation it should not be permitted to exist at all unless there is a benefit to the public. Microsoft has unlawfully exerted its monopoly status (which it has only been able to gain due to copyright law) to establish undue influence over the market and something must be done to prevent them from continuing to press their unfair advantage.

Something you really need to keep in mind here is that Microsoft has no natural right to exist. If corporations do not serve the people, then why permit them to exist? Microsoft has arguably done more to hold computing back than any other "entity". Why not get a little something back? You act like Microsoft has had nothing from us all this time, and that is patently false.

Nice TrollMod, ModTroll. (0, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917103)

If someone can explain to me how modding the above as "Troll" is anything other than abuse, I'll be fucking amazed. Hint: It doesn't mean "anything with which I disagree." I see someone let the radical libertarian fundamentalists have modpoints again.

Re:Neat (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917013)

They have repeatedly and willfully violated the laws of multiple countries, have been fined multiple billions of dollars, and that has not deterred them as they continue to violate those laws. That means breaking them up into multiple competing companies, with the products decoupled from each other, is the only real remaining remedy with teeth.

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27917129)

ignore

Re:Neat (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916311)

Yeah and if the Windows OS is the most popular business desktop system, the target market for an office suite would be Windows; why waste development time on other systems? Macs were popular in schools until recently; after they fell out of popularity, MS withdrew IE and Office support on MacOS. Sun has a vested interest in cross-platform office suites, because then they could migrate you to SunOS desktops and bring StarOffice with it; who the hell else (besides Open Source non-businesses) writes such software for Linux, BSD, MacOSX, and Windows?

Re:Neat (1)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916899)

Because I should be able to use the Windows Kernel with X, the Windows API on Linux, and Office on Free BSD.

You might just get Office on Free BSD, but if the Windows API weren't tied to the Windows Kernel I don't think either would continue to exist for long. Both the Windows kernel and the Windows API are really quite unappealing on their own; it's the lock in that the combination of the two creates, and yes, to a lesser extent, the advantage gained from their better interoperability, that make Windows successful.

And yes, I've done enough work with the Windows API that I know what I'm talking about.

Re:Neat (5, Interesting)

kklein (900361) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916839)

I have been arguing for this for 10 years (I'm assuming the OP means breaking it into separate OS application companies). Here's why it would be good for everyone, including MS:

  1. Windows would get better. Without having to be part of such a large organization with such a large corporate line to toe, they could work smaller/faster/smarter, like Apple does. Yes, Apple makes applications as well, but they aren't comparable to the high stakes involved with Office. Also, by losing their biggest actual benefit (the tight integration with Office), they will have to compete more on features, usability, and security--which will be good for everyone.
  2. It would be good for Office. By being cut loose, the application company would no longer have to put the Windows platform, branding, and goofy UI idea du jour ahead of the main goal: making the best office suite better. Suddenly, I think we could expect the infuriating hobbles put on the Mac version of the product (Why no VB support? Why can I only see 5 Styles in the style list? Why can't it look more like Pages, which looks more like Word 2003?) to disappear, and--even better--the introduction of a native Linux version.
  3. This would be good for Apple. Suddenly, their platform, which is already very good, gets better, because of the better, wholehearted (as opposed to half-assed) support from the application company.
  4. This would be good for Linux. Suddenly, with Windows playing on an even field, and a native Office, I think we'd see a lot of companies and even more tech-savvy home users move (I'd move off the Mac in such a case, I think). With the influx of users would come more development cash, opportunities, and interest. Linux would not only become more viable due to the things MS does, but because of the increased attention, Linux could really grow and mature.
  5. This would be good for every software company in the world. Suddenly you're not competing with the MS Windows/Office/EverythingElse juggernaut; you're competing with individual products. You have a shot!

I don't really hate MS products. In fact, I really like Office. With the exception of PPT, nothing really has all the features and ease-of-use Office has (Keynote beats PPT soundly, though). A lot of times I have tried to move off of Office out of principle (or because of the frustrating UI of Word on the Mac--but it's still better than Office 2007!), but I always end up back, because I always find that there's something it does that nothing else does (or, rather, does right--tables in Word are the biggie).

I also liked Windows, a lot, through the Win2k/XP years. I only recently switched back to the Mac, due to the horrid mess Vista is (I really don't think 7 is much of an improvement--although it does seem a little better, from playing with the beta for a few hours). I would like to see all that talent at MS put to better use making a better product. I just don't think that it can be done with the company so big. The bigger a company is, the less each individual does--partly due to laziness/anonymity (not really that big a problem, I don't thing--most people like doing a good job), partly due to lack of clear focus. Too many cooks.

So there you go, Mr. AC. Those are the reasons why cutting MS in two would be good, exactly.

Re:Neat (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917167)

Also, by losing their biggest actual benefit (the tight integration with Office), they will have to compete more on features, usability, and security--which will be good for everyone.

I saw someone else post this as well -- am I missing something? What's the tight integration between Windows and Office?

It would be good for Office. By being cut loose, the application company would no longer have to put the Windows platform, branding, and goofy UI idea du jour ahead of the main goal: making the best office suite better. Suddenly, I think we could expect the infuriating hobbles put on the Mac version of the product (Why no VB support? Why can I only see 5 Styles in the style list? Why can't it look more like Pages, which looks more like Word 2003?) to disappear, and--even better--the introduction of a native Linux version.

I don't know.. I can't think of any windows platform/branding/goofy UI that Office has to put ahead of it's main goal. Perhaps you could clarify that point? You're not talking about the ribbon right?? I mean, that's an example of awesome UI, and it would surely have been implemented irrespective of Office being made by the same company as windows (see here for details [msdn.com] ).

The Mac issues I'm not familiar with (I'm not a Mac user) but I suspect it's mostly a numbers game. For example balancing the cost of creating a VB runtime for Mac vs. the Mac office revenue. Same case for making Office available on Linux -- low linux installed base, plus very high adoption of (and pre-disposition towards) OOo among that installed probably makes it infeasible irrespective of Office unit being a part of MS, or an independant company.

This would be good for Apple.

Sure, but that's no justification for splitting MS.. I mean, if MS ceased to exist altogether, even that would be good for Apple.

This would be good for Linux.

Same point as above -- that doesn't really justify splitting MS.

So there you go, Mr. AC. Those are the reasons why cutting MS in two would be good, exactly.

So, I think I understand what you mean when you say it would be "good". But that's not the same as "fair"...

Re:Neat (4, Funny)

evolx10 (679412) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916025)

Microsoft is like the broom from that Disney thing that mickey mousekinson chopped up with an axe, Microsoft must be burnt in a plasma furnace to remove all essence of suck.

Re:Neat (1)

portscan (140282) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916623)

yawn...microsoft is so last century.

Re:Neat (3, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916737)

Cut in two? Not enough. The browser needs to go, simple as that. DirectX needs to be torn out, and put into competition against things like OpenGL. The office suite needs to be ripped out of the hands of the operating system people, and any future collusion absolutely prohibited. Take out the silly chat program, and make it earn it's own way. Turn Microsoft's portfolio into a damned paper doll. Competition might actually IMPROVE the various products. Those that don't improve can die out and be trashed. It isn't entirely a matter of making "Microsoft" competitive, but making each of Microsoft's products competitive.

Re:Neat (5, Interesting)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916921)

The browser needs to go, simple as that.

Why does the browser need to go?
What is preventing you from using a different browser?

DirectX needs to be torn out, and put into competition against things like OpenGL.

What prevents an OEM from providing Open GL drivers on Windows?
What is to say that without DirectX we would have seen Open GL v3.x?

The office suite needs to be ripped out of the hands of the operating system people, and any future collusion absolutely prohibited.

What is the collusion of which you speak?
What synergy do you see between Office and Windows, that disadvantages say Open Office?

Take out the silly chat program, and make it earn it's own way.

I assume you mean MSN messenger? Check out the Win7 RC -- already done.

Turn Microsoft's portfolio into a damned paper doll. Competition might actually IMPROVE the various products.

Because you care about improving things, right? Yeah, I totally got that from your post.

Re:Neat (3, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917289)

Obviously, there is something about "monopoly" and "unfair trade practice" that you fail to understand. MS attempts to present the world with a monolithic operating system, with such claims as "the browser is an integral part of the OS", thereby using that monolithic structure to crush competition.

If, A: you don't understand that, you should read history outside of MS approved sources.

If, B: you are just trolling as an MS fanboi, no amount of explanation is going to change your mind

If, C: you really WOULD like to see MS actually make constructive contributions to computer science, as opposed to just enriching it's current stockholders, you should agree with me. Breaking up Microsoft, and forcing each division to act independently, will almost certainly make each of the divisions more standards compliant. Interoperability will improve unbelievably, because IE, for instance, won't have the wealth of the other divisions to draw on. It is only that wealth, and the stubborness of MS, that has prevented IE from being standards compliant in the past.

MS Office was nothing more than a bludgeon used by MS to re-write standards in a manner difficult to copy by other office suites last year, remember? MS reps waltzed into the conference, paid off a few people, and bullied the rest into signing off on a new standard. Phhht. As a seperate corporation, they could never have pulled that off.

Maybe MS Office really IS the best office system in the world - but it should stand on it's own merits, and not rely on all the rest of the MS monopoly.

What we have today really sucks. And, because so few people can even imagine how much better things COULD BE, they think that they are happy with it.

Your sarcasm is noted. There IS NO sarcasm in my post, here or above. I do care about improving things. I am quite certain that MS only cares about lining their pockets.

It's all in the $ (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916751)

Doubtful [opensecrets.org]

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916855)

Not two, six! I can't believe the mentioned Google and Oracle, but left the beast out!

Cable Companies (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917011)

I'd rather see them pursue and split the cable company Television division from the telcomm. This has more impact on my usage than MS's operating system.

Three little words (0)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915981)

we need money.

Honestly, I would not doubt these guys invent something, let alone if they do come up with anything based on current trends will Obama go on TV and vilify people who working legally? It seems he has no qualms about doing so if someone dares stand in his way, the law be damned. I just want to know why every time the government steps in to protect me I end up feeling like I am less safe.

Re:Three little words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916287)

I can't parse the above sentences. What exactly are you trying to say?

Re:Three little words (1)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916341)

I don't get it either, but:

Honestly, I would not doubt these guys invent something, let alone if they do come up with anything based on current trends will Obama go on TV and vilify people who working legally?

  1. Be honest.
  2. Someone is supposed to invent something that is based on current trends.
  3. ???
  4. Profit!!!

Re:Three little words (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916779)

Woosh! (I don't get it either :P )

What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (4, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27915993)

Now would be a good time to break them up, as should have been done before. Why wont it happen? Because hoards of Microsoft lawyers now have jobs with the Obama administration.

End result? , lets go after anyone Microsoft doesn't like, as in Google.

Please notice that I did not use "M$" in the body of this post. The use of "M$" inflaes the paid Microsoft shills that seem to hang out here.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916099)

Microsoft is still going to feel the anti-trust wrath, but they are trying to share the anti-trust wealth that they have been "enjoying". I wouldn't be surprised if the biggest Microsoft Zune competitor (Apple's ipod) got some anti-trust charges in addition to IBM and Google. If anything, by subjecting the competitors to a flame that Microsoft has built up years of resistance against, it will help Microsoft.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916157)

I don't really get why Apple, Google or IBM would get any anti-trust charges. Apple now has made iTunes DRM free, uses open (if not patented) standards for audio codecs, etc. Apple isn't trying to be abusive in the market unlike MS. The iPhone, while closed, could use a bit of opening but I still don't see it being a monopoly, sure, the restrictions are bad, but its not like you can't get an Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile or Blackberry device and get about the same applications/experience.

Google isn't abusive either, sure they have expanded rapidly, but they haven't been destroying the competition. Now if they redirected all searches of Yahoo to "Did you mean Google?" sure, but not presently.

IBM has also opened up in recent years to fully embracing OSS. Sure, soem things are proprietary, but in 2009 IBM isn't a monopoly like back in the '70s and '80s.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916443)

while I wish that the license used by a company could preclude them from monopolistic policies, there may be an alternate dimension where the GPL is used by a monopoly and is preventing closed source software is unable to compete. Simply being open source or favoring open source does not matter one whit in the eyes of an anti-trust hearing. Its all about what you do with massive market share. AT&T could have open sourced their phones and switches, but they would have still been broken up for preventing competition.

Being a monopoly means that you use the weight of an existing consumer base to prevent competition. Microsoft could say that because apple has such control over the portable mp3 market, their linking of itunes is preventing other stores from accessing that customer base. (like linking IE to windows)

While some of you may say that its apple's product and they can do whatever they want, bundling a browser with the most popular (95%+ market share) OS was once grounds for anti-monopoly proceedings.

Essentially what I'm saying is that Microsoft may be hoping that the government will move the monopoly bar so low that their competitors will have to open up.

Microsoft is a major stockholder in Apple and have routinely paid $750m settlements (to companies like Real) because they were being accused of abusing a monopoly. If they can lower the bar enough, then google may be forced to host MSN ads or route traffic through the MSN search. Apple may have to open up their devices to DRM'd WMA's purchased through the Zune store.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916529)

while I wish that the license used by a company could preclude them from monopolistic policies, there may be an alternate dimension where the GPL is used by a monopoly and is preventing closed source software is unable to compete. Simply being open source or favoring open source does not matter one whit in the eyes of an anti-trust hearing. Its all about what you do with massive market share. AT&T could have open sourced their phones and switches, but they would have still been broken up for preventing competition.

With open source though, you are not the sole provider of the software, so an abusive monopoly is impossible to create unless no one cares, if no one cares you obviously aren't abusive enough.

Being a monopoly means that you use the weight of an existing consumer base to prevent competition. Microsoft could say that because apple has such control over the portable mp3 market, their linking of itunes is preventing other stores from accessing that customer base. (like linking IE to windows)

That really doesn't work because A) There are loads of MP3 players available, Apple's really isn't that unique, they aren't the cheapest, etc. B) iTunes isn't on most computers by default, it has to be manually installed C) Other stores can easily compete by being cheaper/better, if iTunes is such a monopoly then where does all this pirated music that the RIAA complains about that shows up in iPods come from?

While some of you may say that its apple's product and they can do whatever they want, bundling a browser with the most popular (95%+ market share) OS was once grounds for anti-monopoly proceedings.

It wasn't the fact that it was just a browser, it was also a browser that managed to be annoyingly incompatible with standards. Not to mention was created specifically to stop Netscape. The iPod was not made to stop the Zune, it didn't have price cuts to try to reduce the Zune marketshare, etc.

Apple may have to open up their devices to DRM'd WMA's purchased through the Zune store.

If it was a patent-free, royalty free codec they might have to, but since it is not and you have to pay MS for it, it is no more than glorified extortion.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (4, Insightful)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916861)

Summary and take-away message. If you own a dominant position in the market and you abuse that position to exclude competition, you open yourself up to a monopoly hearing. It doesn't matter what's possible, what alternatives exist, if you're open source or royalty free, but if you own a dominant position in the market and you abuse that position to exclude competition, you open yourself up to a monopoly hearing. (I'll put this again at the end in case people miss it)

I really wish you were correct. If red hat was the sole provider of support contracts for operating systems and they used their reputation/massive base to exclude 3rd party support, they could be hit. Its all about being dominant and using that dominance to exclude competitors. Simply because something is theoretically possible (users could install netscape and make it default in windows 9x. It wasn't hard, I did it.) isn't enough to prevent that monopoly hearing. The judges don't care about standards, they don't care about royalty-free, they don't care about whether or not there CAN be competition, they only care about what there is. Not all judges are as idealistic as the average slashdot reader.

Other companies COULD have run wires or used ham radio to provide telephone service, but they didn't. There WERE other browsers besides IE. Most of the time, an anti-monopoly suit is brought by competition in the field that the competitor is being forced out of. If Company A didn't have the majority of the install base and a competitor would have been able to survive, then Company A is abusing a monopoly which opens them up for lawsuits. While there's a fine line between the court protecting a companies ability to make money, they will also respect when a company is unable to compete because of monopolistic practices.

if no one cares you obviously aren't abusive enough.

Bingo. There is nothing to prevent you from making a superwidget and owning 100% share of the superwidget market. The second that you start forcing competitors out of the superwidget market with something other than properly applied patents, copyright, or trademark law, then you've just abused your monopoly. If you start forcing competitors out (say by refusing to do business with companies that sell a potential competitor), then you've just opened yourself up to a lawsuit. Also, you're allowed to improve or introduce a new product line to "stop" (capitalists would call it "compete with") a competitors product. If IE had continued to be a stand-alone product or optional at install, there may not have been a case. However, if it was optional at install or stand-alone and Microsoft told HP that they would stop selling windows at OEM prices to HP if they bundled Netscape, that would have been an abuse of the monopoly.

While i know wikipedia is not a legal dictionary, its a good referance on some subjects and doesn't reference open source or most of the things you've mentioned. [wikipedia.org] However, it does mention product bundling which could tie itunes and the ipod together. That could get in the way of ipod users playing zune music or the Zune Store selling ipod DRM'd music. The lack of willingness to license Freeplay to competitors could actually open Apple up to a hearing.

Also, you don't even need a majority in the EU to be a monopoly, the article above says that one company had 39% market share, but if you're dominant, you can still hold a monopoly.

Summary and take-away message. If you own a dominant position in the market and you abuse that position to exclude competition, you open yourself up to a monopoly hearing. It doesn't matter what's possible, what alternatives exist, if you're open source or royalty free, but if you own a dominant position in the market and you abuse that position to exclude competition, you open yourself up to a monopoly hearing.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

randomchicagomac (809764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917235)

[Rant]
Compare

If you own a dominant position in the market and you abuse that position to exclude competition, you open yourself up to a monopoly hearing.

with

judges . . . don't care about whether or not there CAN be competition, they only care about what there is.

I am not an antitrust lawyer, but you said it yourself. Having a dominant position in the market is not sufficient to make you a monopoly: you also have to abuse that position to exclude competition. If there can be competition, then you have not abused your position to exclude such competition.

The ancestor post (too many generations) was about whether use of open standards could, by definition, mean that you were not abusing a dominant position. Parent poster replied by saying that AT&T (presumably back in the days of Ma Bell) could have open sourced its switches, but AT&T still would have been a monopolist. That's because what AT&T was selling at the time was better understood as hardware and access to that hardware.

Another topic discussed up there somewhere was whether Apple is abusing its market dominance with the iPod. In this case, open standards, etc., might be able to themselves ensure that Apple is not excluding other music vendors from that market. These standards have less to do with whether Apple is abusing its position to exclude other hardware manufacturers from the relevant market, but that's another story (FWIW, I don't think Apple is abusing this position).

My point is that it's important to determine what the relevant market is--this thread has identified markets in software sales, hardware sales, and software support. If the market is actually selling software that works, a company that uses open standards might, by definition, be incapable of abusing their position to exclude others.
[/Rant]

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27917243)

However, it does mention product bundling which could tie itunes and the ipod together. That could get in the way of ipod users playing zune music or the Zune Store selling ipod DRM'd music. The lack of willingness to license Freeplay to competitors could actually open Apple up to a hearing.

Really?

iPods can play un-DRM'd MP3s just fine. Even if you're forced to use iTunes to update your iPod (although there are alternatives, albeit hacky ones, and although plenty of other music players have or have previously had proprietary software that must be used to update the device), you can still buy MP3s somewhere else and import them into iTunes quite easily.

The only time that doesn't work is if the music has someone else's DRM. I don't really understand how Apple could be subject to a lawsuit for refusing to pay someone else to use that someone else's proprietary format, particularly when that someone else had the option of using a different format all along.

The iTunes store currently sells music without DRM, and that music can be played on devices other than the iPod.

So it seems somewhat ridiculous to claim that Apple refusing to sell a license to a proprietary format (that is not required to use their device) to a competitor is anti-competitive behavior -- if the competitor's customers want to use the iPod with their new purchases, they can, as long as it's not wrapped up in a proprietary format.

(If there was not a non-proprietary alternative format out there, I think this might be different. But since there's a widely available and popular non-proprietary format for music -- called MP3 -- that works with all MP3 players, that claim doesn't seem to hold water.)

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917309)

It wasn't the fact that it was just a browser, it was also a browser that managed to be annoyingly incompatible with standards. Not to mention was created specifically to stop Netscape.

Did you use the internet a decade ago? Back in the late, Netscape Navigator sucked compared to the IE versions available at the time. IE4's support for the HTML DOM and CSS were much better than Navigator 4's. Both companies frequently ingored standards and created their own, and many times this actually was good. Remember blink (NN)/marquee(IE)? Frames, cookies, and JavaScript? All Netscape inventions. XMLHttpRequest [wikipedia.org] , which enables "AJAX" and makes things like Gmail and the new Slashdot possible? Originally developed by Microsoft in 1999 and later implemented by other browsers starting in 2002. Oh... and the standard - still a working draft - was first drafted in 2006 [w3.org] .

Many of the complaints made regarding IE in the past 5 years or so could apply to the last versions of Netscape Navigator.

Read on [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917029)

You are displaying a fundamental misunderstanding of the word "monopoly". A company is a monopoly if they have a dominant market share - period. And it is not illegal, nor even necessarily bad. What is illegal is using that monopoly position in illegal ways, such as forcing competitors out of business, etc.

It is that confusion that causes these periodic swings in enforcement policy, because the mere fact that a company is that large is an advantage in the market, and hurts competitors. The progressive/liberal viewpoint is that this is enough to trigger regulatory action. So, Google should deserve regulatory sanctions because, since they are so large, it's hard for competitors to make money competing with them. Of course, the problem with this viewpoint is that it will quickly lead to the anti-trust version of affirmative action - companies that are larger than others will be restrained simply because they are larger, with no regard to how they got that way. Better business practices, brilliant ideas, terrible missteps by competitors: it won't matter. "We're sorry, but you have too much market share. Give it to someone else".

Free marketers/conservatives take the opposite tack - if a company is large, so what - they shouldn't be subject to special laws or scrutiny. And we've seen where that leads - the robber barons, Standard Oil, etc.

Right now the liberals are in charge, so that's the way it will trend. But let us at least be precise in our descriptions of the problems

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (4, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916455)

I don't really get why Apple, Google or IBM would get any anti-trust charges.

Don't be silly, of *course* Google is a monopoly! When people google, who do they use? Google. Google has a complete monopoly when it comes to googling. That's why we have to split the company in two. I propose the creation of two companies, "Go" and "Ogle". Or perhaps "Goo" and "Gle", or even "G" and "Oogle". Anyhow you get my point.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916663)

When people google, who do they use? Google. Google has a complete monopoly when it comes to googling.

Kind of amazing Google hasn't tried to stop people from using "google" as a verb. After all, you were trying to be funny, but Xerox was forced to stop people from "xeroxing" to make the verb no longer under their monopoly, else they would have been split from it.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917125)

You're right about why Xerox tried, but in fact people continue to use "xerox" as a generic verb for "photocopy" and yet Xerox has not lost its trademark.

About those codecs... (1)

Rob Y. (110975) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916771)

>Apple now has made iTunes DRM free, uses open (if not patented) standards for audio codecs, etc.

If the AAC codec is as open as, say, WMA, how come other audio players don't include it? I was looking at an ad for a cheap player from Coby that had OGG fer Chrissake. ...and WMA. How come no AAC? With all those iPod users out there and all their ready-to-go AAC files, why wouldn't all iPod competitors support AAC?

Is Microsoft just giving away their WMA 'intellectual property'. Or is Apple (or whoever holds the rights to AAC) overcharging?

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (5, Informative)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916805)

Google isn't abusive either, sure they have expanded rapidly, but they haven't been destroying the competition. Now if they redirected all searches of Yahoo to "Did you mean Google?" sure, but not presently.

True. Search for "search engines" on Google. The first link in the results is a news article about the Wolfram Alpha. In results further down, live.com is listed ahead of google.com. When I click on the "list of search engines" link at the top, I get a page that lists yahoo.com, but *does not* list google.com.

Seems reasonable.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (2, Interesting)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916851)

Heh. I should have continued. A similar search on live.com yields *no* results for Google. None.

Oh really?

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917311)

Why wouldn't they? Nobody in their right mind would allow the top two businesses in a market merge, which is justification in and of itself to break up Google. Sometimes a company being large enough is in and of itself an undo burden on trade.

As for Apple, it doesn't matter whether or not they're DRMed, the fact is that the format they use is nonstandard and represents a barrier to other manufacturers competing with them.

There's obviously more two it in both directions, but it's not exactly hard to see why they should be scrutinized.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916107)

...And what good would breaking up MS do? What needs to happen is A) Laws allowing you to return bundled software for free for a refund with no hassle B) Enforcing open standards, and open source in government C) requiring that technology education for public high schools be platform independent D) Repeal the DMCA so DRM can be broken

If you take these sane steps, MS will wither, on the other hand breaking up MS is A) Anti-capitalism and B) Won't work to stop its monopoly, only create smaller ones.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (5, Informative)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916245)

Microsoft would had never had the money to launch the XBox as a successful invasion of the video game market if it were not for the combined cash cow monopolies of Windows and Office. (And ironically, if they hadn't been able to move in on the video game market at that time, then the Halo series would have stayed on the Mac platform.)

Breaking up Microsoft might not be worth the effort today, but then again, having a natural monopoly has never been the (legal) issue. It's abusing that monopoly to take over other markets that is illegal, and it certainly is necessary to make sure that Microsoft can't continue that pattern.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916451)

But really the Xbox has been a good thing for the video game market as a whole. Sega was doomed from the start with every single console save for the Master System and the Genesis (Mega Drive for those not in the US), and almost ruined the Genesis with all the add-ons (Sega CD, 32X, etc). So past the Dreamcast era even with no Xbox, Sega would have failed. What would have happened would be the Gamecube having all the non-hardcore games and all the Nintendo franchises, while Sony would have most of the market to itself and end up with lots of contracts with developers. Unless IBM (or Apple if they did it right, though they might have not had the capital for an initial loss-leader at the time) stepped in with console it would be SNES vs. Genesis part II. With the Xbox, Sony had to compete for better games (Nintendo having mostly first-party games really didn't care).

Sure, the Xbox was an extension of a monopoly, but game consoles always have been competing with less than 4 other systems, with Sega dropping out, it needed competition.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916303)

Exactly. If MS was broken into a browser and an OS company, we would definitely still be using IE6 since the browser company would divert all of it's developers to other projects. No affect on anything at all.

I fail to see how breaking them up would be anti-capitalism though. I think you mean anti-Laissez-faire capitalism.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916379)

But would we be using a browser that was just as bad? A browser is essential for the average person to download newer, better browsers. OEMs, while they could bundle a decent browser, would just as easily buy a crap browser to put on the systems. We would have yet another proprietary browser war, with people having to buy browsers on disk and no Web 2.0 revolution.

An OS is not complete without a browser, if Apple couldn't bundle Safari with OS X then I don't think we would have WebKit nor would we have (by extension) Chrome.

And yes I do mean Laissez-faire capitalism because its really the only form of real capitalism unless by capitalism you simply mean that people have capital (cash).

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917133)

We would have yet another proprietary browser war, with people having to buy browsers on disk and no Web 2.0 revolution.

You say that as if it were a bad thing ...

If web pages were written to a true standard, and one has always existed, that would make for the best results. You then select the browser that delivers the feature set you prefer most.

10 or 20 browsers, on top of 10 or 20 O/Ses running on 5 or 10 hardware architectures would make for an extremely hostile (to) web malware environment *and* those who try to buck established standards.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917151)

Laissez-faire capitalism wouldn't have corporations, patents, or copyrights.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916359)

in other words: force open source down everyone's throat since open source can't make a product people want to use even if it's given away for free so that i can live out my little fantasy of microsoft finally failing at the hands of open source.

must be an aspiring politician. they all want to legislate what they claim is common sense but no one else can see it. they'll force it on you even if you plainly say no to it and tell you it's for your own good.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916657)

Um, no. The government should use open source for a few reasons A) Its not supporting any company, they can do all patches, security, upgrades, etc, in-house, this increases security because they are the only ones doing it so they can audit their own code. B) Throughout many studies, OSS has been found to be more secure C) Open source is cheaper, less tax dollars wasted D) Open source allows for smoother upgrades when the time comes because the code is there to compare different versions

I should be allowed to return any bundled software that cost the OEM money for little to no hassle and receive a refund if the OEM does not make it an option to have no operating system on the computer. This is common sense and prevents people who do not want to support a company from inadvertently lining their pockets. Plus, if you aren't going to use it, why pay for it?

Cross platform teaching just makes sense in today's world. The student who knows only OS X will be possibly lost if they end up in a job that is Windows only. The student who knows only Windows will be lost if they have to work with OS X or Linux. By supporting cross-platform or mixed-platform technologies, students have a much better knowledge of computers not Windows, or OS X or even just Linux. Similarly all programming languages should be done in a platform independent language such as Python, Java, etc. Not a language or psudo-language that is locked into a certain platform.

I don't think anyone can rationally say that the DMCA is a good thing. All it has done is increase monopolies, lawsuits, and made businesses hesitant to develop any "intellectual" property in the USA. Modchips, Flash Cartridges and other industries that thrive in other countries can't be legally made in the USA because in order to make them you must subvert the copyright protection.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27917099)

First off, open source is only cheaper if you start off open source, your users already know the software and you already have open source techs. Otherwise it's more expensive to convert to open source and to find techs. It's the truth, we both know it. Stop denying it.

And I highly doubt that the US government doesn't have access to Windows source. Stop being naive.

If you don't want what's in a bundle than don't buy it! That's the real common sense approach.

The student who knows only Windows will be lost if they have to work with OS X or Linux.

HEY EVERYONE! A LINUX USER HAS FINALLY ADMITTED IT IN BLACK AND WHITE!!!!!

That's right! Everyone get up and finally do the victory dance! They denied it for over a decade and now they finally have the guts to admit it! There is a learning curve to going from Windows to Linux! Retraining time is no longer just a strawman from Balmer! It's a truth and they finally admitted to it! Ha ha! They say it's bullshit when you talk about the costs of converting to Linux, see his own point about cost!, but when it comes down to there is an admitted learning curve.

Bottom line is that you CAN'T have it both ways. Either it does cost to retrain or there is no substantial difference between running Win/OSX/Linux. Make up your minds on this one.

Similarly all programming languages should be done in a platform independent language such as Python, Java, etc. Not a language or psudo-language that is locked into a certain platform.

Remind me to never let my kids go to a school where you teach. I want skills to be taught, not touchy feely politically correct techno-babble. Not that I would mind if they learned Java or C but because I don't want for popular skills being held back. If 90% of all software developers use VB than I want it taught. It might make little difference in public schools since nothing substantial in programming is taught but when it comes down to an office suite? I want MS Office taught. I don't care if it costs a couple bucks on each students machine. You've already admitted that learning something on a software that the user doesn't use in the real world leads to additional training time. Since the vast majority of work places use MS office, VB and Windows that's what I want taught.

The DMCA should have never been allowed to stand on its own as it has but this isn't a question of IP reform. Ultimately the DMCA is about IP, not monopolies.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917039)

...And what good would breaking up MS do?

Force them to compete on merit?

What needs to happen is A) Laws allowing you to return bundled software for free for a refund with no hassle

No, one issue is that by default, the way they have set up OEM licensing, everyone pays for a Microsoft license. Lowering the refund hurdle aside, that's inherently anti-competitive and unrealistic - the vast majority of people are going to use what came with the system, after all, they already paid for it. It works to stifle any competition. Netscape died a painful death.

Another example. Why is there no competition for MS Outlook? It's a mail program that appears designed to make its users look like drooling idiots. I especially like the "<user> would like to withdraw this message" messages I get all the time. "Oh but the calendar feature is wonderful." I also like how it takes at least 3 or 4 reposts to schedule a meeting and by the time that is accomplished, even Outlook can get confused about the results. (And don't get me started about the idiocy that is top-posting).

You kids have no idea what things were like in the 80s when there was competition, variety and innovation. Now, get off my lawn.

Re:What about the root of all evil, Microsoft? (3, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916831)

What really made the key difference is that Microsoft discovered political lobbying. They had never really given it much thought before the anti-trust trial, when Gates was naive enough to think the company would succeed just because of how smart he is. Faced with their eventual elimination, Gates realized that when you run a big business you have to play the game. That means gaining political favor. When Gates started his lobbying arm, he did it the way he does everything else: with full force. Now, Microsoft's lobbyist department is one of the strongest in the industry. No future president or legislator will ever again threaten them with monopoly charges. Hell, they could probably buy Google if they really played their cards right. The monopoly trial was about nothing more than politicians sending Gates a message saying "you've got to pay to play".

Hurdle/Hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916007)

Can it really be that hard to get hurdle/hurtle right, when you've got an article that uses it correctly right in front of you, which you're copy/pasting into your own submission?

  To hurtle is to travel at great speed through the air. A hurdle is a jump, or an obstacle to be jumped.

Re:Hurdle/Hurtle (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916353)

Can it really be that hard to get hurdle/hurtle right, when you've got an article that uses it correctly right in front of you, which you're copy/pasting into your own submission?

    To hurtle is to travel at great speed through the air. A hurdle is a jump, or an obstacle to be jumped.

When people that do it [yahoo.com] don't even get it right?

Total Information Awareness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916037)

Now that Google isn't the NSA's very own privatized TIA program (which was made expressly illegal by Congress), there aren't any Loyal Bushies around to defend them.

Oops! Google sided with the law breakers, and lost. So much for "Teh Dunt Be Teh EVEL!!!11!!"

Re:Total Information Awareness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916137)

You're a moron. Google was basically the only one that said "go fuck yourselves" to the government when they came knocking.

Great, can we start with IP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916061)

The government is finally moving to curb monopolies... We can start with the patent laws, copyright laws, and work our way from there.

Enough of "Too Big to Fail"! (4, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916075)

I remember gobs of people complaining about letting businesses get to be "too big to fail" back when the last administration started the process of bailing out financial companies. I'm curious as to just how many of those same folks will be showing up lauding this move -- and of those who don't, how they expect to prevent businesses from growing that large without regulatory action.

Re:Enough of "Too Big to Fail"! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916165)

I for one laud the move, assuming they actually do it rather than say that they're going to do it.

But to be fair, when the government said that they were too big to fail, they were implying that they'd do something about the credit default swaps. To this day, I don't believe anybody has actually addressed those in any sort of direct way.

We could have bailed out all of the mortgage problems for around 3-4 trillion whereas the real problem was many times larger than that due to companies buying insurance on bonds they hadn't bought.

Re:Enough of "Too Big to Fail"! (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916173)

the problem is too big to fail was a bullshit notion to begin with. they just had trouble saying "old boys club".

Re:Enough of "Too Big to Fail"! (3, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916553)

What do you mean "had"? This problem hasn't gone away. In fact, no one is addressing it at all. At least no one who can make a difference given the current political landscape.

Re:Enough of "Too Big to Fail"! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916243)

Getting too big to fail is only one of the problems with large combinations. Another problem is that there are less choices for consumers or business customers, and so the monopolist or near-monopolist can raise prices, cut product quality and customer service, and reduce commitment to innovation; frequently they do all three.

The opportunity to spruce up the bottom line by seems to be a big motivation for a lot of M&A's. Of course, you never hear that when the deal is announced. We hear about "synergies" and "combining our expertise to compete anywhere in the world" yada yada yada. Then the acquired CEO flies off a year or two later on his golden parachute, so he can buy his ten vacation homes, while the board approves hefty additional compensation for the acquiring senior management team. Can't let the competition steal away such incomparably talented folks, you know.

We just went through an enormous wave of combination in the banking and telecom industries, spanning the end of the Clinton administration to the end of the Bush administration. Does anyone think that this has resulted in better service and lower rates for customers? Take a good look at your latest credit card statements and phone bills and you'll be able to answer that.

Re:Enough of "Too Big to Fail"! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916319)

I remember gobs of people complaining about letting businesses get to be "too big to fail" back when the last administration started the process of bailing out financial companies. I'm curious as to just how many of those same folks will be showing up lauding this move -- and of those who don't, how they expect to prevent businesses from growing that large without regulatory action.

how about you stop giving incentives for centralization, like government granted monopolies or implicitly backed securities?

Shakedown is more like it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916863)

Shakedown is a much more appropriate term for what is about to happen. They've already stolen one car maker and given it to their union cronies.

Re:Enough of "Too Big to Fail"! (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916945)

The current mess with certain banks and the car makers is a good argument for injecting a "too big to fail" criteria into the existing anti-trust criteria. Sure Chase and Citibank and BofA all compete but if they've gotten "too big to fail", is there really competition? The same applies to GM and Chrysler plus some other companies that aren't in trouble at the moment (e.g., what happens to commercial aviation if Boeing goes belly up? There used to be a competitor called McDonnell-Douglas until Boeing bought them).

Capitalism only works if today's dinosaurs can be recycled. When a company becomes "too big to fail" that recycling stops. Had any of the banks that are the focus of TARP been smaller, the FDIC would have seized them and sold off the assets to "healthy" banks. That this solution wasn't possible says that we've let these banks and certain other businesses (e.g., AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, etc.) become too big and deluded ourselves that there is any true competition.

Cheers,
Dave

There's no such thing as too big to fail.. (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917361)

Seriously, if we would have let Citibank or AIG go down the shitter, what would have happened? Let's see, we would have had a month where we lost 600,000 jobs.

Oh, jeez, we get those every month now.

TARP is hands down the dumbest bipartisan thing ever done. Right about now the House Republicans that opposed TARP are starting to look really good. TARP was a trillion dollar waste of money.

And of course, we followed that up with another trillion dollar waste of money in the stimulus. Our latest moron in chief could conceivably go and blow that on another stimulus that has 0 impact on GDP... as for some reason our retards in Washington think that we just need to get consumers borrowing more when the problem with the USA is that everyone has borrowed too much.

HELLO! Microsoft anyone? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916141)

This really annoys me as they aren't prosecuting the biggest offender of them all. Microsoft needs to be eliminated entirely.

Seen as a hurtle... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916175)

Articles by 'eldavojohn' posted by 'kdawson' kill kittens and make Baby Jesus cry. Lewis Black [lewisblack.com] wants to know; "What The Fuck is wrong with the both of you?"

Hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916421)

[quote]eldavojohn writes
"A policy from the Bush era seen as a hurtle to the government prosecuting companies under antitrust laws has been withdrawn by Obama's Department of Justice. [/quote]

hurÂtle (hÃrtl)
v. hurÂtled, hurÂtling, hurÂtles
v.intr.
To move with or as if with great speed and a rushing noise: an express train that hurtled past.
v.tr.
To fling with great force; hurl.

Why those corporations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916445)

Its amazing how Google is being harshly criticized for having Eric S. on two tech comanies' boards while corporations like AT&T, Apple, and Intel (not to mention M$) who regularly engage in anti-competitive behavior, are not mentioned.

Re:Why those corporations? (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916701)

Because AT&T, Apple, Intel and MS pay LOTS of money to congressmen, as well as hire lots of ppl that worked in DOJ later on.

Welcome big brother (0, Flamebait)

dkone (457398) | more than 5 years ago | (#27916907)

To all the people that voted him in, reap what you sow. It all sounds good until the come for the company that you 'like'. Then what are you going to do?

Re:Welcome big brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27916983)

Dupilcates create jobs. If there was competition, there is duplicates in marketing, sales, tech support, programming, etc. It also keeps prices low which everyone needs right now.

Watching Microsoft get a free pass pissed me off. I'm not always convinced a company should be broken up, but certainly penalized for bad behavior.

Re:Welcome big brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27917057)

I don't like any corporation, not even my own, suck it A.C.

Re:Welcome big brother (1)

jvollmer (456588) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917161)

> To all the people that voted him in, reap what you sow.
> It all sounds good until the come for the company that you 'like'. Then what are you going to do?

I'm going to point them towards your house! "Do it to Julia!"

tubgi8L (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27917117)

Another set of excuses for our Kleptocracy. (3, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917271)

Seriously, which one of these findings were so objectionable. Was it:

"No single test for determining whether conduct is anticompetitive such as the effects-balancing, profit-sacrifice, no-economic-sense, equally efficient competitor, or disproportionality tests works well in all cases. The Department encourages the continuing development of conduct-specific tests and safe harbors;"

or

"Remedies for conduct that is found to violate Section 2 should re-establish the opportunity for competition without unnecessarily chilling competitive practices or undermining incentives to invest and innovate;"

Monopolies aren't illegal (2, Interesting)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27917337)

However exploiting them is. For those of you asking why Google and not Apple, perhaps that's why. I'd be hard pressed to say Apple has a monopoly in any of its markets anyway.

What is the government's intent in pursuing anti-trust action? If it's to make markets more competitive there are better industries to target than microchips, software and computer manufacturing. The barrier to entry for the software market is very low. In my opinion any emphasis here should be on limiting mergers and acquisitions that stifle innovation.

However if their goal is to limit the exploitation of consumers they need to revisit telecommunications. Start with the government-granted monopolies given to the cable companies. Then take a look at the oligarchy that the wireless phone market has become. AT&T may not be the "Ma Bell" of yore but they seem to be heading that way.

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