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Is the SCO Lawsuit a Good Thing for Linux? 422

Posted by michael
from the tetanus-shot dept.
Jack William Bell writes "The National Post is running an essay by Wynn Quon entitled 'Linux's lucky lawsuit'. In it Quon claims that (A) SCO is going to lose (saying ". . . SCO is a toad about to face a steamroller.") and (B) the Linux community needs exactly this kind of 'inoculation' as the OS moves from a hobbyist platform to a real business tool. Good analysis or unwarranted optimism?"
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Is the SCO Lawsuit a Good Thing for Linux?

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  • Er... no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fr0dicus (641320) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:47PM (#6655634) Journal
    Wouldn't we just be better off with all these companies putting this money into Linux instead of lawsuits?
    • Re:Er... no (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Eric Ass Raymond (662593) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:49PM (#6655640) Journal
      Even if you put all the money in the world into a product (ie. Linux) will be wasted if you cannot defend your property in court.

      If Linux is to survive, it is imperative that its license, the obnoxious GPL, is tested in court.

      • Re:Er... no (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fr0dicus (641320) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:53PM (#6655674) Journal
        Nice sentiment, but this case isn't about testing the GPL, it's about claims of stolen IP. "Testing the GPL" is bunk because it's a license chosen by the developer, the owner of the code. They can do what they like with it in our (currently) free society.
        • Re:Er... no (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bwt (68845) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:14PM (#6655783) Homepage
          What do you mean "the" developer? Are you talking about SCO? IBM? Linux Torvalds? Alan Cox? etc...

          The case absolutely will test the GPL, because both IBM and Red Hat have raised GPL license issues. SCO distributed GPL'd code (even if they assert it was a mix of GPL'd code with their own code) and the legal question is what legal rights did they agree to waive by doing so.

        • Re:Er... no (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MuParadigm (687680) <jgabriel66@yahoo.com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:31PM (#6655857) Homepage Journal
          Actually, it is in part about the GPL now; IBM has made the GPL part of its defense. IBM's claim is that, as a contributing developer, its copyrights in the kernel are being violated by SCO continuing to distribute it while SCO pusues licensing fees that are prohibited by the GPL.

          If the claim stands up in court, then it will be a win for the GPL. Which I gues kind of proves the point of the article, even though I'm not happy about the actions SCO has taken.

        • Re:Er... no (Score:4, Interesting)

          by einhverfr (238914) <chris.travers@gmail . c om> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @04:02PM (#6656225) Homepage Journal
          Nice sentiment, but this case isn't about testing the GPL, it's about claims of stolen IP.

          It is about both. SCO released Linux under the GPL and are therefore bound by it. This licence is part of what is being tested-- as are SCO's trade secret allegations (which are bunk, IMO-- you can't publish something on your web site and then call it a trade *secret,* and I doubt that you can publish your code on your web site and then complain when a partner publishes their code on their website either).

          If I understand correctly, and IANAL, the SCO suit basically states that the IBM license forbid them from releasing code that IBM owned into Linux.

          SCO is basically claiming that IBM didn't steal their IP so much as they acted to destroy SCO. SCO can't complain about Linux development at a time when they were doing the same thing.

          At least with Sun vs Microsoft Sun alleged that Microsoft was trying to destroy the product that they were further developing (Java). The claim that by further developing product A that I am developing too (and we are licensing to eachother) you are trying to destroy me strikes me as strange to say the least. Especially when both sides acknowledge that they were trying to make Linux do the same things (become more scalable, suitable for the enterprise, etc).

          The more I look at it the more I am convinced that SCO has a good chance of getting summary judgement against them, and being laughed out of court. If it goes to a trial, they are going to look like extreme fools, unless they care to ammend the complaint again ;-) But again, IANAL.
        • Re:Er... no (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dtfinch (661405) * on Saturday August 09, 2003 @04:48PM (#6656435) Journal
          If they point out which code is their's, everyone will gladly remove it, and the violators will be caught and punished, assuming there's a record of who checked in the modifications. Anyone who continues building kernels with the stolen source may face hefty lawsuits or prison.

          But at the moment, while SCO claims that one or more programmers violated their copyrights, SCO has violated the copyrights (stolen the IP) of the over 400 programmers who have contributed to linux. By not agreeing to the GPL they forfeit the right to create or distribute modified GPL'd software, but they'd rather commit hundreds of counts of copyright infringement, even while suing others for lesser infringements against themselves, than break some of their support contracts with past customers.

          For them to be "legal", they must either stop distributing the kernel source code altogether, or agree to the terms under which they are distributing it. Though there's still the problem of crimes already commited. They've been commiting copyright infringement for several months now, there's all the libel, the false and threatening emails and phone calls to the customers of their competitors, the attempts to sell licenses for something they don't own, threatening lawsuits against those who don't buy them, etc.

          I hope to see some of the countersuits pierce the corporate veil and drain some SCO executives, those who don't flee to mexico with the money earned from selling their inflated stock.
          • Re:Er... no (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Thing 1 (178996) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @05:43PM (#6656701) Journal
            Anyone who continues building kernels with the stolen source may face hefty lawsuits or prison.

            What a world we live in, when building software can land you in prison.

            My vote is that prisons should only consist of violent offenders. Any crime that does not involve violence should be a house arrest of some type (even before RFID, we have ways of tracking criminals in their homes).

            But they're not listening to my vote.

          • Re:Er... no (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Squideye (37826)
            If they point out which code is their's, everyone will gladly remove it, and the violators will be caught and punished, assuming there's a record of who checked in the modifications. Anyone who continues building kernels with the stolen source may face hefty lawsuits or prison.

            I think that the focus of SCO's complaint is that they've lost business because if the code hadn't been put into Linux in the first place, we would all own VAXen or mainframes, and be running System V, therefore SCO would be reaping
            • Re:Er... no (Score:3, Insightful)

              by EvilAlien (133134)
              Actually, if there was no Linux then there would be no SCO, at least as we know it today. You see, if the SysV/UNIX intellectual property had value then it wouldn't have been resold umpteen times. Nobody wanted it since it didn't seem to have any actual value. Why do you think IBM sold it? Novell?

              The problem is now that those SCO suckers bought a deed to a piece of useless land, pardon the analogy, and are desparately trying to find a way to make the boneheaded purchase turn into something not so poin

      • Re:Er... no (Score:5, Interesting)

        by xyvimur (268026) <koo3ahziNO@SPAMhulboj.org> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:54PM (#6655680) Homepage
        ``If Linux is to survive, it is imperative that its license, the obnoxious GPL, is tested in court''
        Thats exactly the point. And if GPL suceeds, linux wins, then business will not hestitate to accept, invest and use it.
        • Re:Er... no (Score:5, Informative)

          by TopShelf (92521) * on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:43PM (#6655900) Homepage Journal
          And even better, how fortunate is Linux that a heavyweight like IBM is taking up its side on the GPL? If, a few years ago, one had thought of the GPL being challenged in court, who would be expected to take up the fight? The EFF? Some OSS group? Hardly a thrilling prospect...
          • Re:Er... no (Score:5, Insightful)

            by cdrudge (68377) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:30PM (#6656101) Homepage
            One thing to keep into perspective here. IBM has only 1 motive here. It's profit. Everything that it does ultimately comes down to does it make business sense to do something. I beleive that it does make sense for IBM to join the fight (or maybe do the majority of punches), but IBM isn't doing this because it's the "right" thing to do.

            The enemy of your enemy could be a friend, but it could end up one day being your enemy and come back to bite you. I'm sure there are some chinese proverbs out there but I can't think of them right now.
          • Re:Er... no (Score:5, Insightful)

            by shimmin (469139) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @04:41PM (#6656413) Journal
            OK... Just because IBM is out for profit doesn't mean their profit-seeking will hurt Linux. One of the more successful business strategies in the technology world has been to make your product's complemenents ubiquitous, inexpensive commodities.

            IBM's products are enterprise-level hardware and technology consulting. If enterprise-level software is more available, the demand for both of these increases. Therefore, it is in IBM's interest to make a high-quality operating system ubiquitous and inexpensive.

            It so happens that they have chosen to do so through Linux. The plan is make profit by selling hardware that runs Linux and consulting services for systems that run Linux. At no point is it in IBM's interest to hinder the development or adoption of Linux, since doing so only decreases their potential market.

            (Microsoft did a similar thing with the PC. By licensing DOS to IBM in a non-exclusive fashion, they left the door open for cloned PC's to run the same operating system, and therefore look and feel the same to the user. And when the PC became a commidity piece of hardware, Microsoft profited. However, their doing so was not a bad thing for the PC in a hardware sense, nor could they have any possible profit-motive in restricting the spread of the PC.)
      • by RoLi (141856) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:02PM (#6655729)
        If Linux is to survive, it is imperative that its license, the obnoxious GPL, is tested in court.

        Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.

        However, why the SCO case could indeed be a good thing for Linux is that people, managers and businessmen could wake up and realize that the GPL is a true "no sue" license.

        The risk of getting fined by the BSA is much higher than any risks from the GPL. (Actually there simply are no risks from a user's point of view. As long as you don't redistribute, there is no risk because there is no way to violate the license.)

        In times in which many companies spend a significant portion of their revenue on lawers, a no-sue, no-IP-bullshit license like the GPL is exactly what is needed for a lot of companies.

        • by Jack William Bell (84469) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:11PM (#6655775) Homepage Journal
          Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.
          Perhaps it isn't about the GPL for SCO. But I am willing to bet dollars to donuts the GPL is going to be a big part of the case before it is over.
        • by B'Trey (111263) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:16PM (#6655791)
          Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.

          The original suit wasn't about the GPL. However, one of the specific points of of IBM's countersuit [com.com] is that SCO distributed Linux under the GPL and thus removed any claim they may have otherwise have had to exclusive ownership of parts of the code in the Linux kernel. This IS a direct test of the GPL, and it will likely be one of the first issues decided since, if it stands, it makes all of the other issues in the suit irrelevant.
          • You're right that it's about the GPL, but wrong in the manner its being tested. Exclusive ownership of part of the code is actually necessary for the GPL to work; i.e., the code has to copyrighted, otherwise the grant of limited distribution (the code can only be distributed if the source and a copy of the GPL is included) is unenforcable -- because without copyright the code is in the public domain.

            IBM's claim is that they have exclusive ownership of the code that SCO is contesting (RCU, NUMA, JFS, etc.), and that SCO is in violation of the GPL by:

            A) distributing the code in violation of IBM's copyrights

            B) requesting licensing fees in violation of the GPL, under which IBM permits distribution of its copyrighted kernel contributions

            and

            C) requesting licensing fees for code SCO has itself already licensed under the GPL.

        • IBM and Red Hat disagree that this case is not about the GPL, each having raised the GPL issue in their court filings.
        • by eric76 (679787) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:22PM (#6655815)
          Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.

          The SCO lawsuit against IBM was not about the GPL.

          The Red Hat lawsuit against SCO is about the GPL, as is the IBM countersuit against SCO.

          • by Chordonblue (585047) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @04:47PM (#6656431) Journal
            This whole SCO business has nothing to do with the survival of SCO, the GPL, the 3 billion from IBM, or the $1400 license fees from you. That's all cover for what's REALLY going on.

            I have one question: WHERE IS BOIES? You remember him right? Mr. Bigshot lawyer guy? Showed up on the first day of the filing and disappeared. Why is it that he hasn't told his client Darl(ing) to STFU and handled the responses himself? That's what a responsible, caring lawyer would do. That's what a lawyer not rented for a single DAY would do. I'll tell you what - this has all been a show.

            All of this has been to pump up the stock so Darl and his cronies can dump it and enjoy life in some warm climate somewhere. All these claims of IP and GPL violations are cover for the real criminal activity. These guys are destroying SCO and they know it - have known it for some time.

            I feel for the employees, the duped stockholders, and even those stupid enough to purchase a single useless license from these guys. One can only hope for a class action, but history shows (check out the corporate histories of Commodore, Ameritrain, Enron, Worldcom), the big guys of these types of companies rarely do time.

        • by h00pla (532294) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:31PM (#6655856) Homepage
          It may not have been about the GPL in the beginning, but it has evolved into a case about the GPL, probably due to MS's insistence. That was probably the payback for the 10M license they bought from SCO.

          SCO originally thought it was going to raise a stink, get IBMs attention and get bought off or bought out. That didn't happen. Microsoft got into the fray with their purchase of a license and that, interestingly was the point where the thing started to go out of control. Originally there was no talk from SCO about the GPL or going after Linux companies or users.

          SCO now knows that it is out of control. You can thank Microsoft for this. They must be having a good laugh. They got what they wanted. A famous test case for the GPL.

          • by The Monster (227884) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @04:54PM (#6656465) Homepage
            evolved into a case about the GPL, probably due to MS's insistence
            Yep. MS wants to paint this picture of the GPL. They'll spin it like Professor Harold Hill himself...

            Well, ya got trouble, my friend.
            Right here, I say trouble right here in Silicon Valley
            Why, sure, we're a software company
            Certainly mighty proud to say,
            I'm always mighty proud to say it
            I consider the hours we spend with code on our screens are golden
            Help you cultivate horse sense and a cool head and a keen eye
            Didja ever take an' try an' give an iron clad leave
            to yourself from Scalable Multiprocessing?
            But just as I say it takes judgement, brains and maturity
            to test and debug Enterprise Software with full Code Review
            I say that any boob can take and shove C source in the GCC compiler
            And I call that sloth,
            the first big step on the road to the depths of degreda-
            I say, first- medicinal wine from a teaspoon,
            then beer from a bottle
            And the next thing you know your son is hackin'
            Distributed Denial of Service Attacks.
            and listenin' to some big pseudonymous script kiddie
            Hear him tell about mp3 downloadin'
            Not a wholesome CD, no, but a compressed
            format where the entire _player_ can be smaller than the smallest disk.
            Like to hear some disposable Ko-rean hardware playin' Mozart?
            Make your blood boil, well I should say
            Now, folks, let me show you what I mean
            You got zero, through twelve - that's THIRTEEN terms and conditions in the 'Public License'.
            Terms that mark the difference between a gentleman and a bum
            With a capital 'B' and that rhymes with 'G' and that stands for 'GNU'

            And all week long, your Silicon Valley programmers'll be fritterin' away
            I say, your coders'll be fritterin'
            Fritterin' away their noontime, suppertime, WORKtime, too
            Run the code through the compiler
            Never mind gettin' Digital Rights Management implemented or the security holes in Outlook patched
            or Total Information Awareness connected
            Never mind filing for any patents 'til the software industry is caught
            with an IP portfolio empty and no one to sue and that's trouble
            Oh, ya got lots and lots o' trouble
            I'm thinkin' of the kids in the cargo pants,
            young ones learnin to install Linux on their Game Boys after school
            Ya got trouble, folks, right here in Silicon Valley
            with a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'G' and that stands for 'GNU'

            Oh, we got trouble
            Right here in Silicon Valley
            Right here in Silicon Valley
            With a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'G'
            That stands for 'GNU'
            We surely got trouble
            We surely got trouble
            Right here in Silicon Valley
            Right here

            Gotta figure out a way to keep customers
            paying dues
            . . .

        • Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.

          Oh.. because the sixth counterclaim (Paragraphs 74-79 of the Counterclaim)
          in "Defendant IBM's answer [gnuheter.com] to the amended complaint and counterclaim-plaintiff IBM's counterclaims against SCO" is exactly about that.
          Header: Sixth Counterclaim: Breach of the GNU General Public License
        • Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.

          No, but it should be. Linus and other kernel developers should be suing sco for copyright violations since they are still distributing the Linux kernel without agreeing to the GPL.

      • Re:Er... no (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Osrin (599427) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:38PM (#6655883) Homepage
        There are a number of things that need to be tested in court and the SCO case will cover most of them... we need to see the GPL tested (as you say), we also need some precedent set around the use of IP in OSS projects, this case also looks like it has the potential to cover some of that ground as well.

        The SCO case is likely to be the first in a string of similar cases, the outcome of this one will help other companies decide how they want to proceed with other perceived IP violations. The more the merrier.

        In the long run OSS is not going to survive or succeed on good will and enthusiasm, it needs some legal standing and legal understanding before larger enterprises will commit whole heartedly.
    • by bstadil (7110) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:02PM (#6655732) Homepage
      Wouldn't we just be better off with all these companies putting this money into Linux instead of lawsuits?

      Over and above the fact that this is not an option it wouldn't be.

      It's the same argument as stating we do not need advertising, packaging, etc.

      Linux is moving from being a Solution to a Product. A product that needs to compete with other Products in the market place. This means that all the intangibles starts to be very important wether you like it or not.

      FUD is a legitimate marketing tool used by alternative products and your Product needs to be able to withstand the critisism.

      That is why we need this lawsuit, need for GPL to be declared a legal enforcable license, and for SCO to be silences (or better killed)

    • by MuParadigm (687680) <jgabriel66@yahoo.com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:31PM (#6656106) Homepage Journal
      So far the GPL is NOT being tested; it is being deployed as weapon.

      Red Hat and IBM are both using the GPL to reign in SCO's actions. SCO has not tried to contest the GPL in court (yet). And if it does they will lose.

      In fact, Red Hat and IBM are both using it offensively by pointing out that SCO's attempts to license its IP in the kernel violates the copyrights of everyone else who has contributed to it. The GPL comes into play because none of the other contributors to the code have granted the right of distribution under any other terms.

      IBM and Red Hat are holding SCO accountable to the terms of the GPL, so this is a really not a defense of the GPL -- it's an enforcement of the its terms. That's all.

  • by Joe Jordan (453607) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:48PM (#6655636) Journal
    What doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Same thing here.
  • by popeydotcom (114724) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:49PM (#6655641) Homepage
    Whatever the legal outcome, the fact that people I know who never normally talk about this kind of stuff are starting to get 'interested' in Linux is a good thing (tm) for sure.

    I've just got back from the Hampshire LUG [lug.org.uk] meet where we had a good few 'noob' people arrive. We had a good chin-wag about SCO, and generally chewed the fat about all things Linux.

    Non-Linux literate people just don't realize how big this open source thing is getting. It's great!

  • SCO is strong enough to provoke a strengthening of Linux's defences but not so strong that it poses any real danger.

    But really, I thought the GPL et al. were pretty strong already. My impression of the SCO lawsuit was that the idiot courts play a much bigger role in prolonging it than any Linux advocate. Linux's legal defences are adequate; our country's implementation of them is not.

    • Linux's legal defences are adequate; our country's implementation of them is not.

      Are you under the impression this sentence meant something?
      • by Omkar (618823)
        To be more explicit: Linux has what it needs to protect itself. The courts are just doing a bad job of enforcing the rules.
  • They are obviously trying to make a big profit and get out, killing Linux is a product of them making money.

    I don't think this negative information about Linux helps anyone but them...
  • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:50PM (#6655654)
    It's just too soon to tell. Yes, it could be a positive in terms of GPL, but the FUD machine is still rolling along, and that is a huge negative.
  • by Turing Machine (144300) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:52PM (#6655664)
    It's hard to imagine ANY scenario under which SCO comes out a long-term winner on this. Maybe they thought IBM would buy them out to shut them up, but it's clear that they were dead wrong on that (anyone who's familiar with IBM's litigation history could'v e told them how unlikely that was... if IBM settled nuisance suits, they'd have them coming out of the woodwork).

    It would be interesting to see the GPL tested in court, though.
    • In general, their latest quarterly SEC filing contains lots of interesting bits and pieces. Like you can find that the MS licensing deal they had was probably worth some 8,25 million dollars? Guaranteed no more, unlikely to be less, seeing that previous quarter licensing revenue was $0.

      You'll find that SCO Group still owes Novell a noticable sum ($1.7 million) for Unix rights. You'll find they've burned more than $200.000.000 of venture capital, with little hope of recovering any of that except by a miracle

    • by Anonym0us Cow Herd (231084) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @04:59PM (#6656499)
      anyone who's familiar with IBM's litigation history could'v e told them how unlikely that was

      Anyone familiar with IBM's litigation history could also have told them that a patent infringement counter complaint is standard procedure.

      Today I finally got around to reading IBM's answer/complaint. When you get to the part about SCO infringing IBM's patents, IBM names which specific products infringe each patent. Now I admit ignorance of SCO's complete product line, but this sounds to me like IBM carefully selected a minimum number of patents, in this case four, that would be infringed by every one of SCO's current or likely products. This has the effect of, if IBM gets an immediate injunction to stop the patent infringement, then this immediately cuts off all revenue for SCO. Additionally, patent infringement suits can only be defended by (1) proving that you don't actually infringe, or (2) prooving that the patent is invalid. Either one is very expensive in terms of the sheer amount of research that has to be done. At this point, on old patents.

      Although the patent infringement just sounds like an attempt to be a thorn in the side of SCO, this is likely to kill them. All revenue cut off, and expensive patent lawsuits.

      A preliminary injunction on the patents wouldn't cut off the extortion licensing revenue, but IBM's counter complaint also asks for that.

  • All I get on that page is "Object Required." Anyone mirror it? Whorepost the article text?

    And, on topic: Doubt this is good for Linux, because even if everyone who is scared away from Linux hears that SCO lost and Linux was clean this whole time, they might stay away from it for fear that something like this might really happen in the future. Which brings up a good question: What steps can the Linux community take to actually prevent something like this from ever actually happening (assuming is hasn't alre
    • That page doesn't seem to work with Netscape. If you look at the code, it has Javascript lifted from about five different sources.
    • Here you go (Score:4, Informative)

      by Omkar (618823) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:56PM (#6655696) Homepage Journal
      Linux's lucky lawsuit

      Wynn Quon
      National Post

      Saturday, August 09, 2003

      SCO's challenge of IBM's use of its software is not a threat to the open-source Linux operating system. If fact, SCO is a toad about to face a steamroller.

      Alarm bells are ringing throughout the open-source software world. SCO Group has filed suit against IBM, accusing it of illegally incorporating SCO's Unix code into the Linux operating system. Some analysts are predicting an onslaught of legal attacks that will kill Linux.

      The alarm is overdone. While no one relishes the prospect of going to court, this lawsuit is actually a good thing for Linux in the long run.

      The story behind the lawsuit goes like this: In 1995, SCO Group purchased the code for the Unix System V operating system from Novell. IBM has a contract with SCO to use this code as part of its own operating system, known as AIX. (An outside observer would be forgiven if he thought this lawsuit is all about a bunch of acronyms suing each other). SCO charges that IBM violated the contract and stole SCO's trade secrets by incorporating SCO software into the hugely popular Linux operating system. SCO claims a whopping US$3-billion in damages. Linux defenders accuse SCO of being a gold-digger, a two-bit player trying to exploit Linux's success for money.

      At the centre of the lawsuit, Linux has its own interesting tale. Linux doesn't belong to any one company. Instead it was created through a fascinating process known as open-source development. A team of talented volunteer programmers led by Linus Torvalds collaborated over the Internet and built a stable, spiffy and very cheap operating system. In less than a decade it has become Microsoft's most dangerous rival. The operating system is now deployed on 14% of servers and its market share is growing at a torrid pace of 60% a year.

      Four years ago, IBM recognized Linux's strength. It put 250 of its own engineers to work on it and integrated Linux into its products. The bet has paid off handsomely: In the fourth quarter alone, IBM shipped US$160-million worth of Linux servers.

      And there lies the rub. Linux is now big business. It powers products for Dell and HP. It is finding its way (albeit at a slower pace) on to desktops and consumer electronics gear. Linux was born out of a warm and fuzzy let's-work-together idealism that is typical of all open-source projects. Today it finds itself front and centre in a world where market share projections and $800-an-hour litigation lawyers count for as much as spiffy code.

      Software analysts worry that SCO's lawsuit will put the big chill on Linux development. This would be a bad thing, not least because it would leave Microsoft in a stronger position than ever. But there's another, more stout-hearted way of looking at it: SCO's legal action is the first harbinger of the corporate makeover of Linux. Open-source advocates are outraged at the audacity of the lawsuit. They should instead be thankful. Linux must inoculate itself against the nasty legal toxins that are endemic in the corporate environment. And if we were to perversely pick a poison, the SCO suit has a lot going for it. SCO is strong enough to provoke a strengthening of Linux's defences but not so strong that it poses any real danger.

      What makes the SCO action the ideal first-time lawsuit for Linux is this: First, it is directed at IBM rather than directly at Linux customers. This means there is no immediate threat against the deployment and continuing use of Linux.

      Second, the substance of SCO's claims appears weak. Eric Raymond, who heads the Open Source Initiative (OSI) advocacy group, has been a vocal debunker of SCO's charges. According to Raymond, it is unlikely there were trade secret transfers from SCO code to Linux. The codebase owned by SCO is an old and creaky one, a jalopy compared to the Formula One technology found in Linux. Furthermore, SCO itself had made its codebase freely available for public downloading, making its trade secret

  • As a Utah native, this SCO fiasco is just one of a plethora of evil things which surround this evil place. Discrimination runs rampant here, stupid capitalism runs unchecked and worst of all, Mormonism is alive and well (with correlations between depression and suicide rates). Are all these evils coincidence or is Utah simply a den of iniquity? screw SCO and screw Utah. SCO's PR machine probably gets it's method from the LDS church's PR machine. What an evil, evil place. I need to move away.
  • Bad news... (Score:4, Funny)

    by John3 (85454) <john3@NospAm.cornells.com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:53PM (#6655676) Homepage Journal
    In the short term the lawsuit is bad news. What company is going to roll-out an operating system when there is a lawsuit hanging over it?

    Oh wait, are we talking about Windows?
  • It cuts both ways (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sisukapalli1 (471175)
    It is mostly how people handle it... For instance, someone like M$FT may say, "See, what if another SCO comes out with a law suit", and the linux folks can say, "Yes, exactly, last time such scum came at us, we trashed it, this is also another such scum supported by the likes of M$FT and SUNW".

    In the end, people usually believe what they want to believe. Facts usually don't affect the clarity of wishes and illusions :)

    S
    • ObSimpsons (Score:3, Funny)

      by Feztaa (633745)
      Homer: "Lisa, facts don't mean anything! You can use them to prove anything that's even remotely true!"
  • I concur... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ruebarb (114845) <colorache&hotmail,com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:55PM (#6655688)
    Like it or not, the courts have become the whipping boy for corporations....locking up development for years in the pharmeticul community, bullying individuals who can't afford a legal defense to pull down websites or stop distributing items that are legal... - One needs look no further then Scientology to see what a large organization with lots of money and no shame in suing/litigating their desires into existance. They even forced Slashdot to pull posts off it's server under the "threat" of action to see the courts are the big stick in today's society.

    Linux is gonna have to be able to stand up to these guys if it's going to make further inroads into the corporate environment. Better that it start now, with an ally like IBM. What if they had gone after some real poor Linux distro manufacturer who would have had to cave under financial demands? - There would then be legal precedent for their claims...

    Nope, I honestly think this is a ploy by the Executives of SCO to inflate stock price a bit so they are selling at $10 instead of .68 cents a share, but it's a legitmate threat, and I'm glad we're starting here. Once we've established the validity of the GNU/Open Source License, no lawsuit like this will have any teeth again.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "What makes the SCO action the ideal first-time lawsuit for Linux is this: First, it is directed at IBM rather than directly at Linux customers. This means there is no immediate threat against the deployment and continuing use of Linux."

    Then the $699 USD SCO is extorting from the users must be the co-pay. I love HMO's
  • by ciebie (11303) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:56PM (#6655694) Homepage Journal
    Since SCO vs IBM lawsuit every newspaper I read had at least one story about Linux. My friends ask me if Linux is really worth over $1000? And I answer yes :) If you don't call it success than what?

    • My friends ask me if Linux is really worth over $1000?

      Actually, it's $699 for the tiny little part of Linux that SCO claims to own. So if SCO's intellectual property makes up a few percent of Linux (yeah, right), then Linux as a whole should be worth several tens of thousands of dollars. And you get it for free!
  • by ReciprocityProject (668218) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:57PM (#6655702) Homepage Journal
    Linux was born out of a warm and fuzzy let's-work-together idealism that is typical of all open-source projects.

    What about the hot and bothered let's-rip-his-spine-out-of-his-back and beat-him-with-it rage that is typical of all open-source developers when some -1 troll makes a kind comment about [insert closed-source platform here]?

    Speaking as an open source developer, of course.
    • Linux was born out of a warm and fuzzy let's-work-together idealism that is typical of all open-source projects.

      What about the hot and bothered let's-rip-his-spine-out-of-his-back and beat-him-with-it rage that is typical of all open-source developers when some -1 troll makes a kind comment about [insert closed-source platform here]?

      Well, I wonder whether Wynn Quon prefers vi or emacs ?
  • Lighting Strikes.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CashCarSTAR (548853) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:57PM (#6655703)
    Not a good or a positive article.

    I'll admit. I read through the first half, and it had the facts pretty much on. I thought..wow. A good article coming from the National Post. One of the biggest rags in the western world.

    But then the second half..

    FUD FUD FUD.

    It raises the spectere of FUD about Linux and GPL in particular. Stating that Linux distrubitors need to cover companies over potential copyright violations (none is needed).

    As well, it completely misrepresents the GPL. Giving the absurd idea that somehow a future copyright holder could revoke their code, throwing everything into a huge legal battle yet again.

    The funny thing is that it actually mentions FUD in spreading FUD..teehee..*sigh*..

    Lightning does not strike even once for the National Rag.
    • by fermion (181285) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:58PM (#6656204) Homepage Journal
      It seems to me that the any mention of risk of lawsuits for using OSS software should be countered with the risks of using BSA patrolled software, particularly those covered by the MS license.

      So let's look at the facts. On the desktop there is little current risk. All SCO is asking is that if a user wants to use Linux (and I do not even know if they are specifically taking about the kernel or GNU/Linux) that you pay them $700. There is no talk about annual payments, or forced upgrades, or anything. One could imaginable switch to a MS product or Sun or whatever. In fact, the biggest risk seems to have nothing to do with OSS. The biggest risk is to those people who have shelled out money for IBM kit and will not have an OS if AIX becomes unavailable.

      Now let's look at the risks for a company running, say, MS software. You can be audited anytime, and if found in violation of copyright, be fined multiple times the price of the software for all machines. Saying I'm sorry and switching to Linux will not stop the fine. Now, since hardly anyone can for sure say they have every single license for every single piece of software on every single machine, the BSA has a deal. Let us install a piece of software that will monitor the machines and report back to us all the software you use. MS then has a deal where you pay them a increasingly chunk of change every year to license every product, even if you only need some of the product, and even if you don't have the resources to physically upgrade the computers every year. Oh, and if you were thinking of donating those computers for a tax write off, forget about it. No one will take them because we will immediately audit them and try to find a way to fine both of you for violations of copyright.

      So, ok, what is the more risky OS.

  • Not good (Score:2, Interesting)

    by henrygb (668225)
    Anyone who packages Linux in their products should indemnify their customers from any intellectual property issues

    This rather defeats the point of Open Source/Free Software, i.e. adapting the work of others and passing it on. I would be surprised if any insurance company would cover the risk, especially with an ongoing lawsuit and associated FUD.

    • Re:Not good (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417)
      It is also totally not needed. In both copyright and patent issues, the infringing party is the author or the manufacturer/publisher/distributor, not the end user. The holder of the patent or cpoyright has to go after the infringer for damages, not the innocent purchaser, reader, or viewer. SCO's threat to end users is not only FUD, it's legal bullshit, and getting damned close to extorion.

      Take the just-settled patent suit between Intel and Broadcom, with Broadcom being the LOSER. Intel does not have

  • This may be a bit presumptuous, but IBM hardly seems like the evil empire it once was. This doesn't seem to be the same giant that tried to throw its weight around with the MCA bus. If anything, recent history shows that it will at least be considered the lesser of the two evils.
    • Re:New Era? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by xyvimur (268026)
      For sure not. ``Corporations are Evil''. They are adapting to the situation very quickly to make profits - either short or long term. For example from some point of view SCO strategy was very risky short term strategy. While IBM has other plans. Who knows? In this game players change sides very often...
  • don't think so... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pb9494 (550141)
    as the OS moves from a hobbyist platform to a real business tool.
    Could someone explain this author that Linux is professional for something like 10 years and is widely used as a web server platform ?
  • For a long time now we've been hearing "this might be a good test for the GPL", "xyz organization could hold them accountable for violations of the GPL", etc. Well now, finally, IBM is going to test the real meat of the GPL [cbronline.com]. Really, it's been a coming for a while, I'm surprised it's taken so long. But this will be good, because the longer it waits, the bigger the stakes get, and I'm afraid they're getting a bit too big already.

    I wish something like this would have happened a couple years ago... before I s

  • Not quite right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:02PM (#6655731) Journal
    He basically implies that IBM did put SCO code into Linux. In reality, IBM put code into Linux that IBM/sequent had created and then contributed to Unix.
    The real problem is wether IBM turned over all rights to that code to Unix at that time. This is a contract dispute with SCO, not a patent/copyright issue. Unfortunatly, SCO is trying to make it something that it is not.
  • by Lord Custos (518206) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:02PM (#6655736) Homepage Journal
    I posted this at the tail end of a very long SCO thread, but it definitely bears repeating. (Since No-one will ever read post #1765 of a 7 page thread....)

    A bit of op-ed/interesting facts from Netcraft.com...

    Two months ago SCO sent letters to 1500 of the largest companies globally warning them of risks involved in running Linux. Although SCO did not make the identities of these companies public, Chris Sontag described the list as "the Fortune 500 and effectively the global 2000. It ended up being about 1,500 top international companies". This makes it likely that the list of companies that received letters from SCO will be quite similar to the list of sites we use to study enterprises' web site technology choices.

    At the time many analysts speculated that SCO's behaviour might deter enterprise companies from using Linux. However, this has not happened to date, at least in respect of their internet visible web sites. In the last two months Linux has made a net gain of over 100 enterprise sites; sites which have migrated to Linux including Royal Sun Alliance, Deutsche Bank, SunGard,T-online and most noteworthy, Schwab.

    It may well be that although SCO has generated an enormous amount of attention from the media and the Linux evangelists, it does not presently have the attention of IT practitioners in large companies.


    SCO Who?
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
    • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <abacaxi@NoSpaM.hotmail.com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:30PM (#6656104)
      "In the last two months Linux has made a net gain of over 100 enterprise sites; sites which have migrated to Linux including Royal Sun Alliance, Deutsche Bank,"

      Wasn't it a statement from a securities analyst from Deutsche Bank that was being waved by SCO as their latest "Look, someone believes us, they REALLY believe us!" PR ploy? And isn't that guy a bit out of the loop at DB if he doesn't know his IT department has deployed Linux and the rest are happily discussing SuSE?

  • by Rysc (136391) <sorpigal@gmail.com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:02PM (#6655737) Homepage Journal
    ...but only if we win.

    This is it, it's the long-awaited test of the GPL in court. SCO isn't backing down, and IBM isn't forcibly backing them down. The GPL, before this case is over, will have been tested in court, and that is absolutely good... if we win. If the GPL is not upheld in court then this is very, very bad. Since none of us know for sure how it will go, this whole suit is very potentially-good.

    But, c'mon, this is IBM here. If anyone can win a court battle, it's IBM.

    One way or another we'll know whether the GPL is valid by, say, 2008.
  • by pjack76 (682382) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:10PM (#6655770)
    Even in the likely event that SCO is trampled into obliteration, something important has changed, and changed for the worse.

    I agree with the author's assessment that this is just the first of many attacks. We will be forever defending Linux and Open Source from the individuals and corporations who want to own and control everything.

    It will probably become more difficult for Joe Coder to just submit a patch to fix a bug. At worst, a lengthy background check will become required to verify that he hasn't worked on something similar for a corporation. At best, he'll have to complete some paperwork before he gains committer status.

    These kinds of steps will help tone down the endless parade of future lawsuits that await us, but they will have an impact on the culture of open source, if you can call it that. We can't be innocent volunteers trying to help out anymore; open source processes will have to evolve to more closely match their corporate counterparts. Expect accountability and responsibilty to become new buzzwords, and expect the sort of back-stabbing politics that come with that kind of corporate climate.

    There will be an impact on the meritocracy so often praised -- your work may be rejected for reasons having nothing to do with its merit. Or from another point of view, part of the measurement of your work's merit will be your ability to prove that it's original. "My patch doesn't fix the bug as elegantly, but you used to work for Company X, who developed a similar system five years ago, so we really can't accept your work."

    I'm probably too much of a pessimist. But it seems that regardless of the outcome of the whole SCO mess, something will be lost. Maybe nothing terribly vital, but something.

    • by 73939133 (676561) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:54PM (#6655962)
      It will probably become more difficult for Joe Coder to just submit a patch to fix a bug. At worst, a lengthy background check will become required to verify that he hasn't worked on something similar for a corporation. At best, he'll have to complete some paperwork before he gains committer status.

      That didn't start with this lawsuit.

      Furthermore, even if "bad code" slips in, it can simply be removed. That sort of thing has happened before and it's not the end of the world. The only reason SCO's complaint hasn't been addressed yet is because they haven't told anybody yet what their complaint actually is. As soon as they come forward, it will be addressed within days at most.

      Open source is in a better situation than proprietary, closed-source software when it comes to copyright violations. If a closed source company puts someone else's code into their products, they might be trying to get away with it; that's why courts penalize such conduct pretty harshly in the rare cases where it is actually discovered. But it makes no sense to put copyrighted code into Linux because it's so trivial for copyright holders to check--obviously, when that occurs, it's either an accident or stupidity, and both proof and attribution are so trivial. That's why merely requiring removal of the code from the open source project is usually sufficient.

      So, no, I don't think anything has changed with the SCO lawsuit. People have been worrying about these issues for many years, and they have been dealing with them for many years. The only thing that's different about SCO is the spectacle and PR that surrounds it, probably just intended to drive up SCO's stock price.
  • SCO's lawyers are (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flafish (305068) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:10PM (#6655771)
    just doing what the bosses are telling them what they want them to do. The fact that the lawyers may not understand how a line of code got into an OS is not the lawyer's worry. They must do as the client wishes if they wish to get paid. When the case gets to court, it will show how good/bad the GPL is. The article's point being that it would be a good idea for to pay more attention to how code is reused and where it comes from is well taken.

    The fact that Linux installs went up instead of down after SCO started making noise indicates that most people/companies don't think SCO has a snowball chance in h... and that the GPL will stand the court test.
  • by borg (95568) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:12PM (#6655777)

    Hey, has it crossed anyone's mind that maybe IBM is bankrolling SCO's linux suit?

    Ok, it's a but far fetched. But the more I think about it, the more diabolically plausible it seems:

    1. What kind of moron would lead their puny little tech company into direct confrontation with the IBM behemoth? Counterargument: morons do exist.
    2. GPL uncertainties are being exploited by the old guard proprietary software companies (read: Microsoft)
    3. Every one in the linux camp has been looking for a GPL test case

    What if some Machivellian genius at IBM is orchestrating this? Every day SCO seems more and more like some absurd character from an anti-capitalist farce. What a beautiful test case. They are absolutely unsympathetic as an antagonist. IBM has a flawless legal department. This has none of the ambiguity of the 2600 or Jon cases. How much did IBM spend painting "peace, love, linux" through NYC? How much would it take to buy of a couple of smarmy executives from a failing tech company? (or maybe it was the threat of releasing those compromising pics from the latest NAMBLA rally?)

    And Boies? Maybe he's still sore at Microsoft for the de facto loss in the anti-trust case. Maybe he's deep cover for the penguinistas, out for blood in a scorched earth campaign against the Redmond giant.

    Think on this: IBM didn't have to include a mention of the GPL in their counter suit. There's enough of an argument in the rest of the brief to shut SCO up and shut them down. The GPL could conceivable hurt IBM in the future if they want to pull shennanigans with the linux codebase in the future. This GPL mention has the potential of being and incredible gift to the community.

    Ok. I'll go re-fold my tinfoil hat. 20 years from now when the truth comes out, remember you heard it from me first.

  • by Chris_Mir (679740) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:20PM (#6655807)
    what will become of Slashdot, when all this is over? Would it survive 50% less articles? And what about all the readers, who have to go to the psychiatrist.
    I mean, this is addictive stuff, dude! I dont wanna go cold turkey! :p
  • suing Brittanica (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:27PM (#6655835) Homepage
    Many years ago, I wrote a little blurb about this one topic (to remain confidential), and published it on my web page, complete with copyright notice. It sat there neglected for a while, and eventually I took the page down.

    Very recently, however, I discovered Encyclopedia Brittanica used my blurb for their entry on the subject. They stole my intellectual property.

    I am hereby announcing my forthcoming lawsuit against Encyclopedia Brittanica. I am looking to enjoin them from distributing any further copies, either in paper or electronic form. I will also be seeking royalty payments from anyone owning a copy produced since 2001. And no, I will not disclose which entry it is they stole, since I do not anyone reprinting it even as a news article.

    * * * * * * *

    Yes, the above is fiction. It was written to illustrate how stupid SCO is being. Why no judge has forced them to disclose said infringing code is beyond me. Frankly, since if the code were disclosed it would be removed, it seems like they are ENCOURAGING further infringement, which I would take as their not defending their copyright adequately.
  • It's About Time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gtshafted (580114) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:28PM (#6655838)
    This is exactly the kind of article that Linux needs. This isn't just another article that only appeals mainly to the technical inclined... This article talks to public at large in layman's terms, something pointy haired business executives (and other non-techies who actually make decisions at large organizations) can understand.
  • by grahamkg (5290) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:28PM (#6655845)

    The article wasn't saying a lawsuit is good, but that a lawsuit with this plaintiff is relatively good. A relatively bad one would be with Microsoft.

    There's always a bully, whether in business, school, on the street, or in dealing with foreign nations. If you have no prominence, your battles will be few and/or minor. Linux is now big, and it has attracted the attention of others in a big way.

    I think this lawsuit will be painful, but Linux could in fact come out stronger. IBM continues to push Linux as strongly as ever. To the outside world, they didn't even flinch when the AIX cease and desist date came and passed. They continue to advertise Linux in prominent business magazines. The IBM legal machine is already engaged for the battle. Now Red Hat and SuSE are going against SCO in the US and German courts, respectively.

    IBM can and will continue to fight SCO, and will probably win in court, though there are no guarantees. Linux may come out with what might metaphorically be a bloody nose, but that's life.

    The battle needs to be fought such that the next bully thinks twice before swinging at Linux.

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:32PM (#6655859)
    If the conspiracy people are right and microsoft is behind SCO's misadventure, it doesn't matter wheather this turns out good or bad its just the begining. Microsoft has never gotten anything even close to right on the first try. Windows 1.0, XL, Word, powerpoint, Internet explorer, If they deem its important though they just funnel money from their monopoly cash cows into making it right. Seeing as this attack has cost them maybe 7 or 8 mil and has managed alot of pain you can expect to see a whole lot more untill open source is in bad enough shape for them.
  • If nothing else... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by techstar25 (556988) <techstar25@cf l . r r . c om> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:38PM (#6655882) Homepage Journal
    remember, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Before this incident, many people didn't even know what Linux was, let alone the fact that it is probably what keeps their website online.
  • HELP NEEDED (Score:5, Funny)

    by friday2k (205692) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:44PM (#6655904)
    DEAR SIR/MADAM:

    I AM MR. DARL MCBRIDE CURRENTLY SERVING AS THE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE SCO GROUP, FORMERLY KNOWN AS CALDERA SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL, IN LINDON, UTAH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I KNOW THIS LETTER MIGHT SURPRISE YOUR BECAUSE WE HAVE HAD NO PREVIOUS COMMUNICATIONS OR BUSINESS DEALINGS BEFORE NOW.

    MY ASSOCIATES HAVE RECENTLY MADE CLAIM TO COMPUTER SOFTWARES WORTH AN ESTIMATED $1 BILLION U.S. DOLLARS. I AM WRITING TO YOU IN CONFIDENCE BECAUSE WE URGENTLY REQUIRE YOUR ASSISTANCE TO OBTAIN THESE FUNDS.

    IN THE EARLY 1970S THE AMERICAN TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH CORPORATION DEVELOPED AT GREAT EXPENSE THE COMPUTER OPERATING SYSTEM SOFTWARE KNOWN AS UNIX. UNFORTUNATELY THE LAWS OF MY COUNTRY PROHIBITED THEM FROM SELLING THESE SOFTWARES AND SO THEIR VALUABLE SOURCE CODES REMAINED PRIVATELY HELD. UNDER A SPECIAL ARRANGMENT SOME PROGRAMMERS FROM THE CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY OF BERKELEY DID ADD MORE CODES TO THIS OPERATING SYSTEM, INCREASING ITS VALUE, BUT NOT IN ANY WAY TO DILUTE OR DISPARAGE OUR FULL AND RIGHTFUL OWNERSHIP OF THESE CODES, DESPITE ANY AGREEMENT BETWEEN AMERICAN TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH AND THE CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY OF BERKELEY, WHICH AGREEMENT WE DENY AND DISAVOW.

    IN THE YEAR 1984 A CHANGE OF REGIME IN MY COUNTRY ALLOWED THE AMERICAN TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH CORPORATION TO MAKE PROFITS FROM THESE SOFTWARES.

    IN THE YEAR 1990 OWNERSHIP OF THESE SOFTWARES WAS TRANSFERRED TO THE CORPORATION UNIX SYSTEM LABORATORIES. IN THE YEAR 1993 THIS CORPORATION WAS SOLD TO THE CORPORATION NOVELL. IN THE YEAR 1994 SOME EMPLOYEES OF

    NOVELL FORMED THE CORPORATION CALDERA SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL, WHICH

    BEGAN TO DISTRIBUTE AN UPSTART OPERATING SYSTEM KNOWN AS LINUX. IN THE YEAR 1995 NOVELL SOLD THE UNIX SOFTWARE CODES TO SCO. IN THE YEAR 2001 OCCURRED A SEPARATION OF SCO, AND THE SCO BRAND NAME AND UNIX CODES WERE ACQUIRED BY THE CALDERA SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL, AND IN THE FOLLOWING YEAR THE CALDERA SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL WAS RENAMED SCO GROUP, OF WHICH I CURRENTLY SERVE AS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER.

    MY ASSOCIATES AND I OF THE SCO GROUP ARE THEREFORE THE FULL AND RIGHTFUL OWNERS OF THE OPERATING SYSTEM SOFTWARES KNOWN AS UNIX. OUR ENGINEERS HAVE DISCOVERED THAT NO FEWER THAN SEVENTY (70) LINES OF OUR VALUABLE AND PROPRIETARY SOURCE CODES HAVE APPEARED IN THE UPSTART OPERATING SYSTEM LINUX. AS YOU CAN PLAINLY SEE, THIS GIVES US A CLAIM ON THE MILLIONS OF LINES OF VALUABLE SOFTWARE CODES WHICH COMPRISE THIS LINUX AND WHICH HAS BEEN SOLD AT GREAT PROFIT TO VERY MANY BUSINESS ENTERPRISES. OUR LEGAL EXPERTS HAVE ADVISED US THAT OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THESE CODES IS WORTH AN ESTIMATED ONE (1) BILLION U.S. DOLLARS.

    UNFORTUNATELY WE ARE HAVING DIFFICULTY EXTRACTING OUR FUNDS FROM THESE COMPUTER SOFTWARES. TO THIS EFFECT I HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE MANDATE BY MY COLLEAGUES TO CONTACT YOU AND ASK FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE. WE ARE PREPARED TO SELL YOU A SHARE IN THIS ENTERPRISE, WHICH WILL SOON BE VERY PROFITABLE, THAT WILL GRANT YOU THE RIGHTS TO USE THESE VAULABLE SOFTWARES IN YOUR BUSINESS ENTERPRISE. UNFORTUNATELY WE ARE NOT ABLE AT THIS TIME TO SET A PRICE ON THESE RIGHTS. THEREFORE IT IS OUR RESPECTFUL SUGGESTION, THAT YOU MAY BE IMMEDIATELY A PARTY TO THIS ENTERPRISE, BEFORE OTHERS ACCEPT THESE LUCRATIVE TERMS, THAT YOU SEND US THE NUMBER OF A BANKING ACCOUNT WHERE WE CAN WITHDRAW FUNDS OF A SUITABLE AMOUNT TO GUARANTEE YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THIS ENTERPRISE. AS AN ALTERNATIVE YOU MAY SEND US THE NUMBER AND EXPIRATION DATE OF YOUR MAJOR CREDIT CARD, OR YOU MAY SEND TO US A SIGNED CHECK FROM YOUR BANKING ACCOUNT PAYABLE TO "SCO GROUP" AND WITH THE AMOUNT LEFT BLANK FOR US TO CONVENIENTLY SUPPLY.

    KINDLY TREAT THIS REQUEST AS VERY IMPORTANT AND STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. I HONESTLY ASSURE YOU THAT THIS TRANSACTION IS 100% LEGAL AND RISK-FREE.
  • I don't know... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:32PM (#6656111) Homepage Journal
    ...if this lawsuit is "lucky" or not. What I do know is that either SCO or Red Hat will be out of business by the time all the lawsuits are finished with.


    Let's be realistic about this. Neither has much money to start with. If SCO wins, Red Hat's Linux will cost $1,500 per user, and SCO'll be demanding back-pay. Since Red Hat's been earning $70 per box sold, never mind those downloaded or copied, Red Hat'd be finished. There is absolutely no way they can pay that kind of money. They simply don't have it.


    On the flip side, if SCO loses... There are a lot of people suing SCO as it stands, and you wouldn't need many class-action suits to follow for SCO to fold. Unlike the tobacco giants, there are no major lobbyists backing SCO, and no State in the US has its entire economy riding on it. Don't expect an appeals court to side with SCO, if there are substantial fines levied.


    There is a follow-on impact, though. SGI's future largely depends on Linux. That's why they've backed it so heavily, with both code and hardware. IBM have done the same, but they can survive the loss of their Linux range, the same way they've survived the loss of any other range (eg: PS/2, OS/2). SGI probably wouldn't. They don't have enough in the bank to survive another major blow.


    Oracle, Sun, Intel... these have also invested substantial amounts in Linux, and would all lose significant sums of money if SCO wins.


    If SCO loses, the reverse is true. These companies will be seen as having a competitive edge over their rivals. They will also likely share in any pay-outs by SCO, because of their investments. Free money is never a bad thing for a company. It looks good to investors, too.


    There is the argument that any publicity is good publicity. But the Governments of Germany and Peru won't see it that way, if they end up with a large bill to pay. Again, though, the reverse is also true. If SCO loses, you can expect Governments to pull out of contracts with SCO, because SCO will be seen as a lame duck, about to become a very dead duck.


    But what will those machines run? With the economy still bad, nobody is going to suggest replacing one expensive OS with another expensive OS. That would make Linux an obvious candidate. It's cheap to install, it works on the same hardware, and it's the one that's getting attention.


    Right now, all that anyone can really say is that it'll make or break somebody. Who that somebody is -- that's to be determined. It could so easily swing either way, and that makes it a dangerous thing to bet on.

  • The real advantage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tesmako (602075) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:46PM (#6656162) Homepage
    I think the real reason why the lawsuit is going to help Linux is because it demonstrates the depth of IBM's commitment. Ever since IBM started talking Linux it has been the most effective argument for Linux in business. Problem is that it is not obvious that IBM isn't just talk, while they spend a lot of money on Linux they have a lot of money, they could afford to lose their spendings on Linux no problem.

    Enter SCO, threatening IBM's core business through its crow-jewels AIX if IBM don't drop Linux like a hot potato. One could have no greater example to point business-heads to than that IBM stands up for Linux when faced with lawsuits affecting its beloved AIX.

  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @04:00PM (#6656214) Homepage Journal
    Please copy my article "Let's Put SCO Behind Bars" to your own website. I released it under a Creative Commons license. I designed the page to be very easy to copy, with only very simple, valid markup, and no external dependencies like images or stylesheets. It even looks good in lynx!

    Here's the introduction:

    While the lawsuits being defended by IBM [sco.com] and filed by Red Hat [redhat.com] are likely to put an end to The SCO Group's [sco.com] menace to the Free Software community, I don't think simply putting the company out of business is likely to prevent us from being threatened this way again by other companies who are enemies to our community. I feel we need to send a stronger message.

    If we all work together, we can put the executives [sco.com] of the SCO Group in prison where they belong.

    If you live in the U.S., please write a letter to your state Attorney General [naag.org]. If you live elsewhere, please write your national or provincial law enforcement authorities. Please ask that the SCO Group be prosecuted for criminal fraud and extortion.

    This page [goingware.com] provides the article in the UBB code that some message boards use, with plain text coming soon. I'm also starting to post examples of letters that others have sent to their Attorney's General.

    Thanks for your help.

  • by qtp (461286) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @06:09PM (#6656788) Journal
    Good analysis or unwarranted optimism?

    Neither.

    The article is neither "good analysis" nor is it "unwarranted optimism". It is an editorial piece making the argument for "the corporate makeover of Linux" and attempting to sell that idea to the current users and developers of Linux. "Corporate Makeover" implies both the limitation of the Free aspects of Linux (and other Free Software) in distribution (beer) and in access to the source (freedom), and the introduction of centralized management of Free Software development.

    The repeated claim that Linux cannot become a success and remain free is getting tired and thin. That companies cannot wrap thier minds around the implications of the GPL enough to ship thier products (and services) in a way that is compatible with the GPL is not the fault of the Free Software comunity. It [debian.org] is [debian.org] possible [debian.org] to create and distribute propietary apps for Linux without running afoul of the (L)GPL.

    If Microsoft had helped WINE, there would be little or no demand for OpenOffice, and Linux users would be purchasing Office. Of course, this would have meant acceptance of the fact that Linux is eroding Microsofts dominance of the Desktop market, but acceptance of reality is generally thought of as part of a healthy attitude.

    The accusation that there needs to be more "centralized" control over Free Software development is equally false. The current decentralized methods being used for many projects is the main reason for Linux's (and other FS project's) success. There seems to be a failure to understand how the success of Linux has been due (in part) to the lack of marketing driven development. The "markets" that have directed development have been the needs of individual (and groups of) developers, the needs of the users of individual distributions, and the needs of distributions to cooperate in specific ways. This allows greater freedom for separate distributions to explore different answers to the problems of creating an OS and to share, either in whole or in parts, the solutions that different distrobutions have created. It also allows distributions to decide whether to impliment standards based on merit instead of on compliance (I do not want nice to exit with anything but 0 unless there is an error).

    There will continue to be people who either refuse or fail to understand that Linux and free Software not only fits nicely into the business place, but is a direct result of business philosophies failing to fufill the needs of software developers and end users alike. Corporations are free to cooperate in free Software Development, make products that run on top of Free Software, and market services to end users of Free Software, but it would be a bad idea to let them run the show.

  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:20PM (#6657449) Journal
    The point of the IP laws was to help provide incentive to innovate and there were limitation on just how long those monopolistic rights were to be enforceable.

    Today, though the advancement of technology means the shorter the time span of technology is useful, the IP monopolistic rights have been extended. Where the only way to extract value after initial integration is to take the laws to their extream and to a degree never intended by the founders.

    At the heart of the arguement is not SCO vs. the world but IP laws applied today vs. their original intent.

    The simplist statement of original intent is that "of benefit to society"

    And not to be used in a manner of ...

    "Unfair Competition [threeseas.net]

    The repression of unfair competition is directed against acts or practices, in the course of trade or business, that are contrary to honest practices, including, in particular:

    * acts which may cause confusion with the products or services, or the industrial or commercial activities, of an enterprise;
    * false allegations which may discredit the products or services, or the industrial or commercial activities, of an enterprise;
    * indications or allegations which may mislead the public, in particular as to the manufacturing process of a product or as to the quality, quantity or other characteristics of products or services;
    * acts in respect of unlawful acquisition, disclosure or use of trade secrets;
    * acts causing a dilution or other damage to the distinctive power of another's mark or taking undue advantage of the goodwill or reputation of another's enterprise.

    Protection of industrial property is not an end in itself: it is a means to encourage creative activity, industrialization, investment and honest trade. All this is designed to contribute to more safety and comfort, less poverty and more beauty, in the lives of men.
    "

    Seems to me that GNU and GNU/Linux reaches that last sentence far better than SCO can possible achieve in their lawsuit and claims against Linux and the world.

    Maybe SCO thinks the last word "men" is exclusively them.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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