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Linux Business Operating Systems Software Unix

SCO To Show Copied Code 646

Posted by Hemos
from the throwing-mud-in-the-water dept.
A number of people have written this morning in regards to the latest update in the ongoing SCO dropping Linux, with word from LinuxJournal that SCO has broadened the implications of code copying. A number of analyst groups have come out, however, saying that it's fine to keep moving ahead with Linux adoption - and there's an interesting interview with SCO's General Manager of SCOSource.
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SCO To Show Copied Code

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  • by jjgm (663044) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @07:50AM (#5962718)
    Nonono... the business plan is:

    1. Sue IBM.
    2. Irritate the dinosaur.
    3. Get bought by dinosaur.

    The reason for this being that SCO is on the way down, down, down. The only way to rescue shareholder value at this point from total obliviion is a large injection of equity. Since no-one is likely to weigh in with the millions needed, the best way to obtain that equity is to replace it with those of a more stable stock.

    i.e. get bought by IBM.

    It's a high-risk, last-ditch strategy by a failing company.

    - K
  • Re:All your base (Score:5, Informative)

    by pe1rxq (141710) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @07:51AM (#5962726) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't matter, the gpl clearly states you can't take things back once distributed....

    Jeroen
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @07:52AM (#5962729)
    "This has been posted before but they can not collect on any damages caused, as they have not published the allegdedly infringing portions."

    The Complainant (SCO) is not required to publish the code in question. If such were the case, then trade secrets would be completely undermined by the judicial system. The time for disclosing the alleged infringing code is at trial, where the code can be kept under seal from the public, if necessary.

    "Not telling the world what the code is, is a legal blunder of the first order. This means that they have unclean hands, as they are supposed to try and mitigate the damage in order to receive compensation."

    SCO is not adding to the damages. Mitigation entails stopping damages that are under your control to stop. How is it that you propose SCO can stop IBM or others from distributing software while the suit is being pursued?

    "You can't knowlingly add to the damage and then ask for compensation incl Punitive damages based on same. Any suit against Linux vendor in the future can site this as an Affirmative Defense" and pretty much get the suit tossed on that account alone"

    Even if SCO were to lose this case, a futher defendant would not "site" it as an Affirmative Defense, but rather as a precedential case. And, being a breach of contract case, the precedential value would be limited for a future defendant.

  • by PiotrK (16050) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @08:04AM (#5962785) Homepage
    Please help others moving from SCO to Linux and post links to documentation like this:

    UnixWare to Linux Porting Guide (development tools and the API)
    http://people.redhat.com/drepper/
    http://pe ople.redhat.com/drepper/sco-porting.pdf
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @08:08AM (#5962813)
    Oops, here [caldera.com]
  • Re:Errrrr.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by meloneg (101248) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @08:27AM (#5962933)
    once your code is out there in GPL the version that's licensed under GPL will always be available under GPL

    Um, well, no. If a court were to rule that the code was released under the GPL without the authority of the proper copyright holders, then the GPL release would be voided.

    Any license is only valid if the party releasing the material under that license, had a right to do so.

    IANAL, blah blah blah...

  • Re:Stop it! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @08:31AM (#5962960)
  • Re:Errrrr.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by zmooc (33175) <zmooc@z m o o c.net> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @08:35AM (#5962984) Homepage
    If SCO owned Unix, and then released a Linux distro under the GPL

    I believe it's the other way around (but I may be wrong - please correct/add). Caldera was originally a Linux-company which then bought the rights to Unix from SCO. About that time SCO changed it's name to something like tarantella or so and shortly after that Caldera also acquired the rights to the name SCO. Then they changed their name to SCO, stopped selling Linux (which used to be their core business) and the rest you know.

  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @08:50AM (#5963094) Homepage
    LZH (Lempel-Ziv-Huffman; find repeated strings in a sliding window and then use Huffman coding on the resulting backreferences and raw characters) is freely implementable in all countries - it was developed for pkzip-2.0, and later adopted for gzip. You're thinking of LZW (Lempel-Ziv-Welch). Although the US patent on that will expire in a couple of years IIRC.
  • by Len (89493) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @09:26AM (#5963374)
    The SCO that Microsoft used to partner with is a different company from the current SCO Group.

    In 2000, Caldera bought the Unix part of SCO. [slashdot.org] Then SCO changed their name to something silly, [slashdot.org] and later Caldera changed their name to "The SCO Group". [slashdot.org]

  • by SilentReproach (91511) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @09:51AM (#5963580)
    At least, according to their web site [suse.com]:

    SuSE responds to latest SCO actions


    The UnitedLinux code base -- jointly designed and developed by SuSE Linux, Turbolinux, Conectiva and SCO -- will continue to be supported unconditionally by SuSE Linux. We will honor all UnitedLinux commitments to customers and partners, regardless of any actions that SCO may take or even allegations they may make.

    SCO's actions are again indeed curious. We have asked SCO for clarification of their public statements, SCO has declined. We are not aware, nor has SCO made any attempt to make us aware, of any specific unauthorized code in any SuSE Linux product. As a matter of policy, we have diligent processes for ensuring that appropriate licensing arrangements (open source or otherwise) are in place for all code used in our products.

  • This is simply false. Once you distribute your code under the GPL, you lose ALL CONTROL over that code PERMANENTLY. That is simply what the GPL is designed to do.

    You can't "take it back". This is something that the GPL is specifically designed to prevent.

    Wrong. Imaging that YOU wrote some code -- you own it. You can then "fork" your code. One branch can be GPL, the other can be sold/modified/whatever without having any requirements. The GPL just guartees that you cannot "take back" the forked version. Also, once forked, you cannot re-merge them or "borrow" bug-fixes from the GPL version without making your proprietary version GPL.

    In short, if you "own" some code, you can do whatever you want with it! If you GPL it, then you can have a "GPL" version and a "private" version -- you can give away what you want, and keep what you want.

    In fact, some companies do exactly this! Note that the code for Open Office came from Star Office. Yet Star Office is NOT GPL. In other words, Sun forked the code into a GPL and a non-GPL version.

  • by Drew Sullivan (5357) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:31AM (#5963915) Homepage
    I wrote the iBCS modules. There is NO AT&T or SCO code in it.
  • by rnturn (11092) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:36AM (#5963959)
    ``What *is* a failure to mitigate their damage is the fact that they sold their OWN version Linux along with a version of the kernel that THEY THEMSELVES patched.''

    And the dumb thing is that they were doing this at the same time they say they were investigating possible code copying -- for the better part of the past year (if my memory is clear of what was in previous accounts). It would seem to me that as soon as someone at SCO thought they should start looking at possible copyright infringement that they would have ceased any further participation in Linux at that time. Not a year later.

    Either there's a serious communications problem at SCO or we have a possible explanation as to why Boies's (sp?) law firm was brought in, i.e., their internal legal department doesn't know their elbow from a hole in the ground (I know what I want to say here but I'm trying to keep this as civil as possible).

  • by belroth (103586) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:48AM (#5964066)
    As far as I can make out this isn't a patent issue.
    I'm not sure what it is, if it isn't a kite, but it seems nearest to being a trade secret issue, in which case I would expect due dilligence to be applicable. It might be time to stop speculating until there are more data? On the other hand this is /. :-)
  • by thridur (132896) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:55AM (#5964142)
    They may have stopped distributing OpenLinux on CD, but they are still distributing it via FTP [sco.com].
  • It expires in about a month. On June 20th, 2003, LZW, at least in the US, becomes an unencumbered file format. It will remain patented in a few other countries for another year or two, but essentially, Unisys only has another month to harass people over GIF usage before the patent expires.
  • by siskbc (598067) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:08AM (#5964280) Homepage
    As far as I can make out this isn't a patent issue.

    Yes, it is. They have patents, which they plan to enforce, namely with regard to multi-processor stuff. They also have copyright. Both of these supercede "trade secrets," and neither can be revoked due to any presence or lack of "due diligence."

    If you have a source that suggests copyright (NOT TRADEMARKS) can be revoked by lack of due diligence, I'd definitely like to see it, because everything I've seen states clearly that copyrights are protected for Life+70. Otherwise, do musicians who allow their songs to be traded on Napster-clones lose copyright? No.

    Any due diligence issues might play out in a penalty phase, but in terms of guilt and innocence, it's irrelevant.

    There have been a jillion articles on this thing, including with SCO officials, so it's not a matter of more data. They claim that both patents and copyrights have been violated. Patents supposedly got leaked through IBM's AIX collaboration with SCO. Copyrights supposedly did because they claim that a lot of pre-IBM linux developers were privy to unix code that they were NDA'd from using elsewhere.

    That's where it currently stands. Much of this was in the articles attached to this discussion, which you might have considered reading first.

  • by dmaxwell (43234) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:28AM (#5964509)
    This is simply false. Once you distribute your code under the GPL, you lose ALL CONTROL over that code PERMANENTLY. That is simply what the GPL is designed to do.

    This is not entirely true. The original copyright holder of a GPLed work can do something no other distributor of that code can do. The owner can still fork the code under any license he chooses. He can also legally prevent anybody else from releasing derived works under anything but the GPL. This is a major basis of TrollTech's current business model. The XFree86 version of QT is GPLed but they also license it for closed programs. Granted someone could port the GPL QT to other platforms but it would still be GPL only TrollTech has the authority to license it otherwise.

    This type of control is even used by some GPL critics to argue that it isn't "completely free". So which is it? A total permanent loss of control for anyone realeasing code under it or a fearsome utterly controlled straightjacket used to deny others freedom? I'll grant that the GPL is controversial in these parts but its critics can't have it both ways. I would say that the "utterly controlled straightjacket" has at least some arguable points going for it.

    The only legal regime that your statement is true for is the Public Domain. Even the BSD Licenses (often held up as an exemplar of Total Freedom) allow legal recourse for plagiarism.
  • by rigorist (176416) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:36AM (#5964583) Homepage
    SCO started this case in state court in Utah. SCO alleged both SCO and IBM were Delaware corporations, making them technically "residents" of the same state. Unfortunately, IBM is actually a New York corporation. Therefore, there is federal court jurisdiction to hear the case (residents of different states and amount of controversy in excess of $75,000.00).

    SCO obviously wanted the case in state court. It very carefully pled no federal law claims such as copyright or patent. It pled only state law claims for unfair competetion, etc. The only reason to do this would be if SCO wanted this in state court.

    IBM removed (that's the verb) the case to federal court - United States District Court for the District of Utah on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Not a thing SCO can do about it.

    Why did SCO start the case in state court and why did IBM remove it? The state law claims of unfair competition, etc. are the same (the classic Erie decision still applies for all you budding 1Ls out there). The case will still physically remain in Utah.

    IBM gets Rule 26(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Under Rule 26(a), the parties must disclose to each other, without even a formal request, the most relevant documents to their case. The disclosure must be done relatively quickly. I doubt there is a similar automatic disclosure in the Utah rules. In state court, SCO might have been able to drag the discovery process out for at least a few months. It could keep its source code hidden for a while. Under the federal rules, it cannot do that. By removing the case to federal court, IBM undercut a big hunk of SCO strategy - namely FUD.

    Obviously, the most relevant documents to this case are the source code listings SCO alleges IBM stole. These must be produced to IBM and produced quickly. There willl probably be a protective order preventing the rest of us from seeing them, but IBM gets to see them very soon (like maybe this month).

    If there was no theft of code by IBM, expect a quick resolution of the case. If there was theft from Project Monterey in violation of the SCO-IBM agreement, expect a slugfest over intent and the the measure of damages.

    In addition, by not even knowing the corporate home of its adversary, SCO comes in looking foolish. How hard would it be to determine IBM is a New York corporation, not a Delaware corporation? Not hard at all. Take a look at any of its SEC filings. It was a stupid mistake by SCO and although it does not logically follow that the rest of its allegations are undermined, it does decrease credibility of SCO and its attorneys.

    The interesting question (at least for entertainment value) is who subpoenas RMS first to testify.
  • by magi (91730) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:44AM (#5964674) Homepage Journal
    They distribute(ed) a version of Linux under the GPL, a licence that legally permits people to copy and branch the code assuming they put it under the GPL. Unfortunately for SCO, whether or not they knew they were distributing their own IP under the GPL or not is irrelevant to the rather compelling argument that they did put their IP under the GPL

    The problem is that they didn't put their IP under GPL in the first place, but (allegedly) someone else did without SCO knowing about it. Time is important here.

    As far I understand, they licensed IP to IBM under NDA/whatever. IBM allegedly violated the contract by adding the code to Linux. IBM may be liable for that possible violation, regardless of what happened later.

    Yes, after that, SCO licensed Linux and started relicensing (selling) that version of Linux, including the violating code. That may seem like they were licensing their IP under GPL, but a judge may find that it is not reasonable to assume that they could have noticed their own IP in it. Judges think and are reasonable, occasionally, you know.

    It's a bit (though not exactly) same as with frauds. You can sign away your property, but if court finds that you did not know the relevant facts and the receiver of the property intentionally misled you, the receiver is guilty of fraud and you still own your property.
  • SCO's mistake (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sxooter (29722) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @12:14PM (#5964996)
    From an earlier interview, which was pulled because of it's containing an admission of guilt:

    "Finally. Somebody raised a possible problem that you yourselves distribute the infringing code under the GPL licence. Do you see that as a problem from your point of view?
    No we do not, because you do not have an infringement issue when you are providing customers with products that have your intellectual property in them.
    OK, but Linux has a kernel which isn't yours. Are you saying that there are changes to the kernel?
    We have concerns and issues even with areas of the kernel.
    So you are saying that you are happy distributing the kernel because the offending code belongs to you anyway, as I understand it?
    Yes."

    I.e. these guys don't have clue 1 what the GPL actually says. Unfortunately for them, failure to comprehend a license does not relieve you of your responsibilities under said license.

    http://linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2003- 05 -12-010-26-IN-CD-LL-0026
  • Re: SCOX's case (Score:2, Informative)

    by towatatalko (305116) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @02:16PM (#5966168)
    It's not "the smart money" as far as I can tell, insider trading is at 68%, yes, but smart money is "institutional" trading and that's only 16% of their daily volume. With 12 million of SCOX shares outstanding, the daily 350,000 shares volume would be only 3% of the total. It's not exactly a buying/trading spree. Rather this is overall market condition that is still sort of bullish and so most stocks moved up including Red Hat.
  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:21PM (#5969684) Homepage
    If so much code was stolen, why is it that I can't mount a SCO EFS filesystem under Linux? I can mount virtually every other filesystem under Linux save SCO filesystems with divvy partitions. This is also the same company that takes two weeks to respond to remote root exploits with patches.

    Me-thinks SCO is full of SH*T and is going to fade into history. This is SCO's last stand, how tragic and sad.

    Too bad I haven't finished migrating everything from SCO to Linux yet. I guess the clock it ticking and I better finish porting.

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