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U.S. should keep its laws at home

American companies all too often feel that U.S. laws, customs and practices should apply to them even when they operate outside the United States.

In response to the July 22 Perspectives column by James V. DeLong, "Open source or no: Let the market decide":

There is absolutely no doubt that there is hostility toward proprietary software and enthusiasm for open-source software. But this is not a specifically European phenomenon. Like so many other things, it actually sprang up first in the U.S. and was exported to Europe from across the Atlantic.

It is therefore rather stupid and amounts to "fightin' words" (nor is it borne out by the remainder of Mr. DeLong's article) to identify it as an "anti-Americanism." The fact that Microsoft (which is most often the focus of that hostility toward proprietary software) is an American company is entirely incidental to the situation.

Although there is a certain element of anti-Americanism pertaining to Microsoft, there is also one toward other companies and industries. That is engendered by the fact that American companies all too often feel that U.S. laws, customs and practices should apply to them even when they operate outside the United States. Often with the aid of the U.S. government, they try to bully foreign governments or bodies like the European Union in order to bring about that state of affairs.

If the U.S. government and U.S. companies would accept the internationally recognized principle that the enforcement of national laws and regulations stops at the national border, this particular anti-Americanism would have no chance.

Sincerely,

Wolf N. Paul
Vienna, Austria