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Caldera Software Linux

SCO Claims Linux Lifted ELF 675

Posted by michael
from the making-it-up-as-we-go-along dept.
fymidos writes "SCO has finally spoken. According to this linuxworld article, they claim that linux illegally uses the ELF binary format, the JFS filesystem, the init code and some more 'copyrighted Unix header and interfaces'. Finally SCO makes its move. The JFS part was expected of course, but according to the article, as far as the ELF format is concerned 'the Tool Interface Standard Committee (TISC) came up with a ELF 1.2 standard' and 'granted users a "non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license" to the stuff'. Oh, and of course 'both Novell and the old SCO - as well as Microsoft, IBM and Intel - were on the committee'."
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SCO Claims Linux Lifted ELF

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  • Truth Elves (Score:5, Funny)

    by mfh (56) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:13PM (#9753330) Homepage Journal
    Not sure what SCO has to do with Elf [imdb.com]. Wait, nevermind. They've got truth elves, working from dusk till dawn, griding down the logic and confusing the masses with their cute looking elf outfits and fairy dust. My guess is that Santa Claus himself is somehow behind this latest SCO claim. It just seems like the more they open their traps, the lower their stock gets, so I'm all for many more of these kinds of press releases.
  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:14PM (#9753331)
    SCO, never having a straight-forward and direct claim uses bluster and a childish version of "no it ain't!" to maker their claims. For example, SCO says that TISC ...exceeded its rights... Regarding the GPL that TISC created that SCO doesn't like, SCO calls the GPL "quicksand" and claims it's invalid. I guess they figure it they declare it invalid, then it must be. It still smacks of cowardly playground bullying. There is more than enough sophomoric behavior to go around, though.

    I am not sure what this ends up meaning, legally:

    SCO also claims "substantial similarity" between the Read-Copy-Update (RCU) routine in Linux 2.6.5 and Linux patches and SCO's copyrighted work, specifically SVR4.2 MP.

    Similarity can be a slippery slope and SCO will slide as far down as need be, I suppose. And how about something that "may" be an infringement:

    It also says the journaled file system (JFS) module from later versions of AIX, which SCO believes may derive from the JFS Unix, is in Linux 2.6

    The folks at SCO probably look like adults, they are adult-sized and wear nice clothes. However, they act like elementary school kids arguing over a ball on the playground. Whoever yells loud enough, pushes hard enough, and hold their breath the longest wins.

    Cheers!

    Erick

    • by crimethinker (721591) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:19PM (#9753399)
      SCO also claims "substantial similarity" between the Read-Copy-Update (RCU) routine in Linux 2.6.5 and Linux patches and SCO's copyrighted work, specifically SVR4.2 MP.

      Well, knowing what I know about SCO (only what I read here and on groklaw), I'm willing to believe that there is substantial similarity. However, I'd bet dollars to donuts that the code came from Linux (or more properly, IBM, perfectly within its rights) into SCO, and not the other way 'round.

      Their lawyers have fudged so many facts, fumbled so many easy misses, that I wouldn't doubt this for a moment. "Please stay the RHAT case, because it will be decided by the IBM case," and "please dismiss the IBM counter-claim; it will be decided by the RHAT case."

      -paul

      • by at_kernel_99 (659988) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:22PM (#9753439) Homepage
        Well, knowing what I know about SCO (only what I read here and on groklaw), I'm willing to believe that there is substantial similarity. However, I'd bet dollars to donuts that the code came from Linux (or more properly, IBM, perfectly within its rights) into SCO, and not the other way 'round.

        Your hypothesis is certainly one I wouldn't dismiss immediately, but do you know in what kind of timeframe the SVR4.2 release was made? i.e. Who is the cart and who is the horse, with respect to Linux & SCO.

        • by Simon Brooke (45012) * <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:46PM (#9753717) Homepage Journal
          Your hypothesis is certainly one I wouldn't dismiss immediately, but do you know in what kind of timeframe the SVR4.2 release was made? i.e. Who is the cart and who is the horse, with respect to Linux & SCO.

          System V Release 4 dates from 1991, according to th copyright statement in my manuals. That makes it older than Linux, though not by much. This is irrelevant anyway because ELF is a published standard with an open license, and if it should not have been so published that is an issue between SCO and the people who licensed it, i.e. themselves.

          • by cmoss (14324)
            keep in mind that they are Caldera/TSG not the old SCO that was one of the parties that released the ELF standard.
          • RCU and Sequent (Score:5, Interesting)

            by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:16PM (#9754615) Homepage Journal

            I was working with CBIS (Cincinnati Bell Information Systems) in the early '80s when Sequent S81 was running Dynix/ptx with SVR and BSD interface flavours.

            The technical sales reps were very hot on RCU and how it worked with NUMA to scale the system. 32 way SMP of 386's might not seem much now, but it was significant back then.

            Their plans were to have multiple OS flavours under Dynix, relying on RCU to provide scalability to AIX, SunOS/Solaris, and other operating systems that would sit on top of the monolithic ptx core.

            From day one, RCU and NUMA were marketted by Sequent as seperate products targetted at many operating systems and vendors, not as just a part of Dynix.

            I'm tired of watching SCO's insanity. The industry did not develop in a vaccuum -- there are hundreds if not thousands of us who are witness to how the systems were really developed, despite some IP vulture corp's claims otherwise.

            It's a disgrace that SCO's legal team and IP trolls haven't been arrested for fraud and locked up by now. They have no legal case, they never did, and they never will. It's time for them to be spanked and sent to sit in a jail-cell corner for 20 years each.

        • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:55PM (#9754400)
          RCU comes from Dynix/ptx by Sequent which IBM bought . Sequent like IBM was an AT&T licensee, and according to published letters from AT&T to the UNIX licensee's in their UNIX newsletter AT&T claimed no controll or copyright over wholly customer written subsystems added to UNIX. Beyond that it is doubtfull that you would lose copyright controll over a substantial work just because your work integrated with another copyrighted work. Basically SCO wants to claim that ordinary copyright is super viral to the extent that they own/controll anything linking to UNIX and at the same time wish to argue that the GPL is invalid, it's crazy.
      • by platypus (18156) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:57PM (#9753825) Homepage
        Well, knowing what I know about SCO (only what I read here and on groklaw)

        Dude, then you know probably more than SCO's lawyers.

    • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:25PM (#9753480) Homepage Journal
      These guys make absolutely no sense. They're flailing their arms in the air and saying "You owe us money!" Let's pick apart each claim:

      1. Sontag also says that any entities that ignore SCO's ELF copyrights are infringing."

      Hello? Copyrights are for "copy" protection. Not "patent" protection. If you invent something new and fail to patent it, I can re-implement it all I want, copyright or no.

      2. SCO also claims "substantial similarity" between the Read-Copy-Update (RCU) routine in Linux 2.6.5 and Linux patches and SCO's copyrighted work, specifically SVR4.2 MP.

      Again, do they have a patent? If they don't, then they should STFU.

      3. It thinks that Unix SMP 4.2 System V initialization (init) code was copied into Linux 2.6, that there's "substantial similarity" between the user level synchronization (ULS) routines in Linux and Unix, that its Unix System V IPC code was copied into Linux 2.4.20 and that copyrighted Unix header and interfaces were copied into Linux.

      Oooo... it's similar! Well, that just cinches it, doesn't it. It's not like anyone would ever re-implement a design they liked. I better go take the wheels off my Chevy. It's too similar to a cart and horse.

      4. It also says the journaled file system (JFS) module from later versions of AIX, which SCO believes may derive from the JFS Unix, is in Linux 2.6. - MOG

      Just to reiterate, SCO is not reading their own contracts. What IBM develops is IBMs. Plain and simple.

      These guys ought to be tried and convicted for barratry, regardless of whether their legal counsel is this stupid or not.
      • by tjrw (22407) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:56PM (#9753814) Homepage
        Exactly!

        Regarding RCI, no SCO don't have a patent on RCU (as I'm sure you know :-). IBM do. It was invented at Sequent, and patented by Sequent. As IBM bought Sequent in 1999, they own the patent on RCU, and can do whatever they please with it. SCO's nonsense argument about derivative works wouldn't help them even if it were correct (which it isn't). The method is not specific to Unix.

        As regards JFS, the Linux code is derived from the OS/2 version. This has been repeated time after time, but it doesn't suit SCO's story, so they keep peddling the same lies as though that somehow makes them true.

        Talk about clutching at straws!
      • These guys ought to be tried and convicted for barratry, regardless of whether their legal counsel is this stupid or not.

        Actually, if they're stupid enough to actually think that they're right, they wouldn't be guilty of barratry.

        I look forward to a future case involving SCO with Darl trying to prove conclusively that he was too stupid to realize that his lawsuit was a load of BS.
      • by enjo13 (444114) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:20PM (#9754652) Homepage
        Just FYI: "Substantially similiar" is a legally valid term that is suggesting that the code is a derivative work of the SCO code.

        In order to violate copyright they don't need to be identical copies. Instead they need to show that they are substantially similiar (there it is) to each other, implying that the Linux version is derived from the original SCO code. At what point something stops being a derived work is a whole different mess...

        One common example of this type of copyright dispute is in housing floorplans and architecture. Often someone will see a floorplan they like in a magazine (copyrighted), and move a few things around and have blueprints drawn from that. That's an infringement on the original copyright, because the resulting work is really just a derived form of the original.

        SCO's claims fail on a number of levels, but your 'analysis' is more or less incorrect.
  • by shadow0dancer (655734) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:15PM (#9753353)
    I'm wondering how this accusation would effect linux compatibility mode in FreeBSD.

    -SD
  • by idiotnot (302133) <sean@757.org> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:15PM (#9753357) Homepage Journal
    Make binary compatibility easier with Darwin, anyway.

    This affects everyone, including the BSD's. And, of course, they're full of shit, once again. ELF is not the mortar that binds the OS together. Linux started with a.out, and can probably function just fine with some other binary format.
    • by gr (4059) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:09PM (#9753950) Journal
      Uh. Are you familiar with what is involved with running under a Mach framework?

      It means running, like MkLinux did, as a client process atop a Mach microkernel architecture. This is diametrically opposite to the way that the Linux kernel functions, which is largely because Linus (and many other people, myself included) thinks that microkernel architectures are a waste of resources in the real world (though they're certainly very pretty for OS research).

      This would also destroy the usefulness of all the binary packages in distribution now, which would be a major financial blow that would quite probably put all of the commercial Linux vendors out of business.

      Also, this wouldn't affect OpenBSD, since they still use a.out. (Hey, refusing to change finally paid off for Theo! Good going!)
      • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:10PM (#9754558)
        Yes, some microkernel OSes *suck*.

        And then, some of them don't.

        See Plan 9, or QNX, or VSTa (still a toy for most purposes -- but very small and fast, and generally considered quite promising by a group of kernel developers I happen to know, a group which includes some folks who are considering building it into an OS suitable for real-life deeply embedded work).
      • by dolmant_php (461584) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:18PM (#9754632)
        Actually, OpenBSD moved to ELF (for many archs) in 3.4 [openbsd.org].
    • This affects everyone, including the BSD's.

      Best of all it affects SCO. If ELF support has to be dropped from gcc, what will they use for a compiler?

  • awww... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MachineShedFred (621896) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:17PM (#9753371) Journal
    Man, we had so long without a SCO article that I thought I missed one about a small implosion in Utah.

    Then you had to go ruin my blissful existance...
  • by SlashChick (544252) <(zib.acire) (ta) (acire)> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:19PM (#9753392) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    "In 1995, the year Novell sold Unix to the Santa Cruz Operation, an industry group calling itself the Tool Interface Standard Committee (TISC) came up with a ELF 1.2 standard and to popularize it and streamline PC software development granted users a "non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license" to the stuff, effectively putting it in the public domain, SCO says.

    SCOsource chief Chris Sontag, the SCO VP in charge of the company's hate-inducing IP push, claims TISC, which folded immediately after the spec was published, exceeded its rights even though both Novell and the old SCO - as well as Microsoft, IBM and Intel - were on the committee."


    So if SCO had a problem with ELF way back in 1995, why didn't they stop this back then? Obviously they had the choice to -- they clearly knew what TISC was doing. So why did it take SCO until 2003-2004 to point fingers at TISC?

    I'm sorry, but this reeks of a last-ditch money-grab by SCO...even more than it did before. The release of ELF into the public domain happened nine years ago. IMHO, SCO should not be allowed to pull this into court because their business model is hurting now. Ridiculous.
    • by cmoss (14324) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:27PM (#9753500)
      They are pulling ELF in to court because they are desperate to avoid a ruling on IBMs tenth counterclaim scheduled to be heard on Aug 4th.

      This may be a hard sell to the court since they were not a party to the original effort and they can't seem to find any of the documents transferring any rights from old SCO to Caldera/TSG.

      We'll see if it staves off the inevitable for a while longer at the aug 4th hearing. The best part is that the more deperate they act the more chance the principals will end up in jail when all of this fraud is exposed.
    • SCO has no standing. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bstadil (7110) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:35PM (#9753598) Homepage
      Current SCO is the third link in the chain. Whenever something is sold the successor in interest get's "less or equal" what the seller held.

      Since the seller sold the copyright with the explicit understanding that ELF was in the public domain, NewSCO can not claim anything.

      If someone "exceeded" their authority it's a matter for the parties involved at the time.

    • by jrumney (197329) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:46PM (#9754331) Homepage
      "In 1995, the year Novell sold Unix to the Santa Cruz Operation, an industry group calling itself the Tool Interface Standard Committee (TISC) came up with a ELF 1.2 standard and to popularize it and streamline PC software development granted users a "non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license" to the stuff, effectively putting it in the public domain, SCO says."

      So if SCO had a problem with ELF way back in 1995, why didn't they stop this back then?

      What happened with TISC in 1995 is irrelevant [google.com]. As the Usenet post from 1993 shows, the ELF support in Linux does not come from any code that TISC released into the public domain in 1995 with the support of SCO. It was a clean room implementation based on documented interfaces from "SYSTEM V RELEASE 4 Programmer's Guide: >ANSI C and Programming Support Tools" (ISBN 0-13-933706-7).

      There is no copyright issue here SCO, but have fun taking the US Navy to court over it.

    • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:02PM (#9754471) Homepage
      > ...SCO should not be allowed to pull this into
      > court...

      They aren't. In none of their claims in any of their lawsuits do they ever accuse anyone of infringing their copyrights by putting their stuff into Linux.

      IBM, on the other hand, is close to getting a declaratory judgement that nothing in Linux infringes SCO's copyrights. In opposing IBM's motion for summary judgement on that declaratory judgement SCO has explicitly said that they are not claiming any infringement by Linux.
  • by shogarth (668598) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:21PM (#9753421)

    The ELF bit is a weak arguement, but what can they do? They have a medium-sized pile of money and a dead-end product line. They can litigate, piss the money away trying to outdevelop both the open-source community and Microsoft in the OS space, or give up and find a new business to try and develop. Given the source of their pot of money, it makes sense to take their shot a the IBM lottery...

    Of course, understanding their position doesn't make the decision a smart one.

    • Well, when your only remaining profitable business plan is to steal, then a moral person would say "I have no business plan, and no hope for profitability. Fire sale."

      An immoral person might go ahead and steal.
    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:05PM (#9753904) Journal
      The ELF bit is a weak arguement, but what can they do? They have a medium-sized pile of money and a dead-end product line. They can litigate, piss the money away trying to outdevelop both the open-source community and Microsoft in the OS space, or give up and find a new business to try and develop. Given the source of their pot of money, it makes sense to take their shot a the IBM lottery...

      I think we must be missing something here. I understand your logic, but if you only have $5, you don't go buy a slingshot and take on a Kodiac bear, unless your goal isn't to win to begin with.

      They can't really be expecting to make money licensing Linux. They can't expect to win against the other litigants, since even they know all the other judges want to wait until the IBM case is settled before proceeding. They may not have known this before it all started, but they have to know it now. Its as if:

      1. Sue everyone
      2. ????
      3. Profit!

      And they REALLY DONT KNOW what step 2 is, so they are trying a little of everything. As hard as I look, I just can't believe that they really think they can win, so it begs the questions: What is the *real* motivation?

      Microsoft? Did you read the article about how MS was going to go after open source the other day? (the HP internal docs) I am still waiting for MS to let SCO completely self destruct, then buy their "IP" at a bargain, to hold a cloud over open source. Its like getting your buddy hooked on crack, just so you can buy his stereo cheap.
      • Demise dollars (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:07PM (#9754523)
        What is the *real* motivation?

        I used to think that way too, before "I made $10 million bucks and all I got was this crummy t-shirt."

        Seriously. Built an early ISP. Sold it for a ton of money. Raised an additional $20 million to chase UUNET and PSI's coat-tails. Had a neutral broker in the whole deal steal the money and the company. His attorneys stalled everyone out long enough to get money to offshore banks. We all won the suits, and never saw a dime. Company was long dead by the time the court system got done.

        What I didn't understand at the time was that people like this know how to make money going down. Study what they call penny stock companies (ala bulletin board stocks/pink sheets). You can run one of these that does absolutely nothing, never files SEC documents, and make a nice income. Here's the middle item of the underwear gnomes strategy:

        1. Incorporate a dummy privately trading C corporation which you and your friends own.
        2. Use your public bulletin board company to acquire the dummy company. Claim the dummy company has some mystical super secret technology, or better yet, a patent claim against someone like Amazon.com, Priceline, Ebay, etc. When you buy it, it not only loads you and your friends up with more shares of stock (you buy it with the public company stock, and if you're smart, you do much of this w/ registered stock you can immediately dump), but it puts a bunch of press releases out about the event and gets half of the stock buying market going in a feeding frenzy buying your public stock.
        3. Dump a bunch of your newly accumulated shares. Ride the stock price down to $0.001.

        Repeat steps 1-3 over and over. Oh, when creditors come, make sure you drive the price to zero again (this makes it worthless for them to come after you and even keeps them from pushing involuntary bankruptcy which would take over your company). Claim you were an innocent investor who lost millions too. If pressed on where financial documents are, make sure you had hired some stupid kids and promoted them to CEO by promosing them multi million dollar paychecks. Have them sign all the IRS and state revenue department documents, but don't ever let them actually have control of the bank accounts. This sends the IRS and SEC after them and will stick them with tax obligations for decades. During this lying low time, acquire a few of your dummy companies and load back up on stock.

        Sound far fetched? It happens every single day. The SEC told us it could not do anything about these and could only worry about the big Worldcom sized matters because they were "underfunded and overworked." The rest of the story is that it takes financial and political clout to get the SEC to investigate. Common folks don't matter.

        So is there any wonder that the names behind SCO include power hitters from both parties and much of Utah's power base? Just another way of taking money from the lower classes...
      • Microsoft strategy (Score:3, Interesting)

        by scoove (71173)
        I am still waiting for MS to let SCO completely self destruct, then buy their "IP" at a bargain

        I've been wondering about this as well, though really see the SCO deal as more of a trial balloon and not the actual mother of all battles for open source.

        It really doesn't seem like Microsoft's approach (remember how many billions they have and the pride that comes with the wealth and dominance). A proxy battle is more interesting as a means of testing the waters and seeing how the open source world responds.
  • by Goyuix (698012) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:22PM (#9753441) Homepage
    Come on SCO - as part of my operating systems course in college we loaded ELF binaries (which we also had to create) and RAN them. They have got to be stretching a long way on that one - that is for sure. Not to mention many other OSs (such as the BSDs) can use ELF binaries....

    The JFS claims, that seems like an awful stretch as well, It does make more sense in targetting IBM though as I believe they had heavy involvement in JFS. Honestly I am not nearly as familiar with the ins and outs of it, but unless they are claiming something ridiculous like memcopy() or something...

    Which brings us to number three, 'copyrighted unix headers and interfaces' .... boy. Here comes this crap again. What on earth are they sticking in headers to copyright? #define ONE 1;??? Sounds like I might have a case myself.

    Now the interfaces, which could perhaps be interpreted as API... there is some chance that could have some fuzzy ground I imagine. But how on earth can the judge/court even take them seriously at this point?
  • by ElForesto (763160) <elforestoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:24PM (#9753456) Homepage
    ... and not the last. Anyone remember some little company named Rambus sitting in on industry standard-setting and then running down to the patent office? This seems to be happening more and more often these days, and until we see these IP bullies get their noses bloodied in grand fashion, it's just going to keep on happening.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:37PM (#9753626)
      Actually, there isn't all that much similarity except for the general money-grubbing-IP-capitalist stench.

      Rambus committed fraud by ensuring their patented technology became incorporated in the standard without revealing their patent.

      SCO committed perjury by claiming it owned copyrights on UNIX and JFS (Novell and IBM own those copyrights, respectively), and it violated the GPL by not allowing IBM to redistribute code that was licensed to them under the GPL.

      The former was a fraud committed to get real evidence, the latter is a fraudulent claim to evidence.
    • Not even close.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by schon (31600) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:50PM (#9753760)
      Anyone remember some little company named Rambus sitting in on industry standard-setting and then running down to the patent office?

      Yeah, they're the same, except that the 'little company' didn't exist when the standard was written, don't have clear title to the format, waited *NINE YEARS* to bring it up, and doesn't have a patent, and thinks that this is a *copyright* issue.

      But yeah, except for all those differences, it's totally the same.
  • by tcopeland (32225) * <tom&thomasleecopeland,com> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:24PM (#9753465) Homepage
    ...skeptically [yahoo.com]. Which is nice.
  • by redelm (54142) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:27PM (#9753501) Homepage
    How can SCO make complaints about Linux 2.6 which didn't exist at the time they launched their suit? Are they clairvoyant?

    • For those of us with fuzzy memories:

      According to http://www.dvorak.org/scotimeline/ [dvorak.org], the SCO suit was launched on March 6, 2003.

      According to http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Timeline %20of%20Linux%20development [thefreedictionary.com] Linux Kernel 2.4 was released on January 4, 2001 so it would follow that the code for 2.5 would be under development until the release of 2.6 on December 18, 2003.

      So it's possible that SCO code was incorporated into 2.5 at the time of the lawsuit, but if they had actually seen that

      • by Stormie (708) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:02PM (#9754470) Homepage

        Please do not post links to thefreedictionary.com - they are a dodgy site which repackages Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] content whilst stretching the GFDL [wikipedia.org] as far as they possibly can.

        Look at that link you posted - you'll see a credit to Wikipedia at the bottom. Now disable javascript in your browser and refresh - ooh, the credit is gone! They insert it in with javascript rather than putting it in the body of the page to ensure that Google doesn't pick it up. Why? Because a link to Wikipedia's article would help lift Wikipedia's pagerank above that of freedictionary.com.

        Just say no, and if you want to read Wikipedia's timeline of Linux development, read the original [wikipedia.org].

  • by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:28PM (#9753517) Homepage
    Cisco IOS post 11.2 is ELF. So is nearly every format out there except HPUX. This includes BSDs, embedded systems, so on so fourth.

    So they have just got themselves into the aiming calculations of the entire computer industry including the other big Blue, not just IBM.

    Anyway, do not see a problem even if they win this one. While I want to puke just at the thought of ECOFF, it is if IIRC (C) intel and HP and all it will take to get linux to use them will be one big rebuild and a rewrite of libdl. That is if Intel and HP do not decide to put the dl for ECOFF into the public domain.

    In, btw, this is something on which Cisco can buy them just to shut them up (if everyone agrees to go home and stop the lawsuits).
    • by southpolesammy (150094) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:46PM (#9753721) Journal
      this is something on which Cisco can buy them just to shut them up

      You can not, must not cave in to buy a company like this because it sets precedent for the creation of a million more just like them that will create noise and/or sue for things they don't have ownership for nor can prove there is damage being done.

      You must see this out to the end, either being the annihilation of the barratrous company or the squashing of the lawsuit by an informed judicial process. You must send a message to all other wannabes that this type of crap will not be tolerated and that doing so will result in the destruction of their companies, their reputations, and their personal viability.
  • How the stink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:28PM (#9753521)
    do they propose to have copyrighted a binary file format? Infringement would require that the "copied" files be "substantially similar" to the ones SCOX has copyrighted. Sounds a lot more like their usual squishy-"IP" claim: they hold the copyright on a book describing Unix utilities, so any implementation of grep violates their "IP."
  • Gupta? (Score:5, Funny)

    by tigress (48157) <rot13.fcnzgenc03@8in.net> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:29PM (#9753533)
    The charge was made by SCO VP of engineering Sandeep Gupta in a declaration that is currently under seal, but is quoted, albeit tersely, in the new filings.

    Any relation to Dr [slashdot.org] Samir [google.com] Gupta [slashdot.org]?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:30PM (#9753539)
    Whew!

    I was starting to have withdrawals. No SCO story in days. I didn't have my SCO fix. I thought no SCO story could only mean one thing: "SCO had figured out how to take over the world." At last, you fulfilled my deepest cravings for more SCO news and I can go on living in my beautiful world of FUD.

    Thank you slashdot. Without my SCO updates, I don't think I could go on. My life would be in even more shambles than it already is. Even my dog would not speak to me (now, as for the wife, that might be a good thing).

    Long Live SCO and FUD . Better than comics!

  • by mst76 (629405) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:32PM (#9753570)
    The Complete Story of Caldera/SCOX, as told by Yahoo [yahoo.com].
  • by DynaSoar (714234) * on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:33PM (#9753571) Journal
    "...as far as the ELF format is concerned 'the Tool Interface Standard Committee (TISC) came up with a ELF 1.2 standard' and 'granted users a "non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license" to the stuff'. Oh, and of course 'both Novell and the old SCO - as well as Microsoft, IBM and Intel - were on the committee'."

    The patient is suffering from paranoid delusions. His accustation of persecution ("theft") despite having previously personally approved of the situation represent a psychotic dissocation from reality and should be construed as a negative hallucination. As such, the patient should be provisionally diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia, and should be admitted for stabilization and observation, lest he become dangerous to himself or others.

    Seriously, if SCO were a person acting this way towards other people in public, by now it'd be better than even money they'd have been put in hospital.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:33PM (#9753577)
    Of course they have to file something--the stock's fallen below $5 [yahoo.com], and the end-of-day painters can't bring it up again.

    (Being below $5 is a bad thing(tm), because many mutual funds cannot own stocks priced that low. Also since one cannot easily sell short a stock on Nasdaq priced below $5, it dries up the pool of short-sellers to be squeezed with price manipulations)
    • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @01:40AM (#9757039) Homepage
      Not only is SCOX below $5, today's intraday low, $4.44, broke through the 52-week low.

      SCO's real problem is that the lawsuits are starting to reach the point where SCO loses. AutoZone got a stay. Damlier-Chrysler has moved for summary judgement, and they have a procedural hearing tomorrow at which SCO probably won't look good. Early next month, the big one, IBM's motion for summary judgement on the copyright claims, goes before the judge.

      In the IBM case, SCO is frantically filing motions in all directions, desperately trying to stall a ruling on summary judgement or to raise issues that will convince the judge not to dismiss the copyright claims. If they lose on that one, it's the beginning of the end.

  • by feloneous cat (564318) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:39PM (#9753645)
    Just when I thought I had that herpes problem licked...
  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:43PM (#9753685) Journal
    The mainstream press is buying into SCO's claims just (AFAICT) based on the weight of how often they repeat them and the fact that they have an easy contact point, whereas there is no general "Linux" contact person.

    Take a look at today's CNN.com article [cnn.com], in which the reporter says:

    "The communal aspects of open source can lead to thorny legal questions, particularly when a company claims its proprietary code has seeped into a project. Because developers typically don't offer warranties, end users could be held liable for infringements."

    Wow. It's like saying that all code under the GPL is held to a legal standard that's as harsh as ... well, to give an equivalent example, if an author of a book included some infringing content, it's like holding every person that read the book liable. Eben Moglen's shot this down, it's been raked through the coals on Slashdot and Groklaw ... but because SCO does a better job of managing the press than the "Linux community, as a whole", nasty disinformation about open source is rapidly spreading around the world and seeping into end users' heads.

    Sad. And probably not fixable.
  • ELF licence/standard (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:48PM (#9753744)
    The ELF Standard [ddj.com] says:

    "The TIS Committee grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to use the information disclosed in this Specification to make your software TIS-compliant; no other license, express or implied, is granted or intended hereby."

    Now that's pretty damn clear indication that anyone is allowed to use this license.

    So how does SCO own this again? Oh, right, unlike IBM, Microsoft, Intel and the other members of the TIS committee, their business model is to sue! Ok, sorry, my fault.
  • Object formats (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:51PM (#9753767)
    Can't use ELF? No prob, we have a few others to choose from ...

    * a.out (Unix / Linux)
    * COFF (Unix / Linux)
    * XCOFF (AIX)
    * ECOFF (Mips)
    * SOM (HP)
    * Mach-O (NeXT, Mac OS X)
    * NLM
    * OMF
    * PEF (Macintosh)

    ;)
  • by DarkMan (32280) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:55PM (#9753804) Journal
    So, I'm reading the shaky claims from SCO, and I'm remembering that Linux used a.out format.

    I think that the worst case scenario is that SCO get a tempory injunction blocking the use of ELF (nevermind that no judge would actually agree that to not issue on would cause irreprable harm, given that it's 9 years old). Therefore, there is some merit in ensureing that it is possible to build a modern Linux system on a.out format binaries. Additionally, it torpeados thier claim that ELF is the 'magic pixie dust that they stole to make Linux work'.

    This sounds like a case for a source based distribution. Gentoo, being the most used source based distro sounds like a place that might be able to do that. Alas, I'm not familiar enough with Gentoo to comment - so can anyone who is give a definiative answear on whether Gentoo can be used to give a system without ELF binaries. I undertand that there will likely be a bootstrap step (I remember the a.out -> elf shift in the first place, after all).

    It's not just (not even, I should say) fear of SCO, but there is significant meaning in being able to switch executable formats - that's a lot of flexability for the future.

    So, a.out Gentoo, anyone?
  • by sterno (16320) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:56PM (#9753815) Homepage
    The problem we see here and throughout the SCO case is that copyright was never designed with software in mind. The nature of software licensing is such that there's frequent cases of derrived works from different sources, which is rarely the case in books.

    If you write a book, it's unlikely that somebody's going to excerpt part of your book for their own use. It's even more unlikely that the excerpt they do make will get used by somebody else in their book. This is a standard practice in software.

    Linux uses Elf. SCO claims that the committee that opened up that standard didn't have the authority to do so. Well, it's now years later, and there are countless works derived off of that original standard, and now SCO wants to undo it.

    Basically this has the effect of destroying copyright in software. How can anybody feel legally safe using any software product at any time when the history of every piece of code isn't out there for our perusal? How many times do we here of code that's out there, gets implemented countless times, and then somebody comes along and claims patent or copyright on some ancestor. The GIF patents are a perfect example of this.

    I'm aware of no good solution to this problem. Every year, more code is written like this, and more copyright issues and patent issues arise. This will lead to legal fights, and overall increase the cost of developing software exponentially over time. Keep in mind that the code were dealing with don't date back much further than 1970, so it's only going to get worse.
    • by FyRE666 (263011) *
      The problem we see here and throughout the SCO case is that copyright was never designed with software in mind. The nature of software licensing is such that there's frequent cases of derrived works from different sources, which is rarely the case in books.

      Actually I feel this is a good analogy; whoever wrote the first "Whodunnit" story (probably that dude who wrote the Bible) could claim "Murder She Wrote", "Columbo" and "Hong Kong Phoowee" are all derivative works.

      Stephen King (deceased at 54?) would b
    • by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:53PM (#9754388)
      The problem...is that copyright was never designed with software in mind.

      Which is why copyright in software should be abolished and patents should be used instead. (Ducks behind heat-absorbent shield.) No, really; there are some actual benefits to this.

      Patents expire. (Copyrights seem to be going on forever.)

      Modern software is far more like the interlocking gears of a machine than like the mystic gestalt of a painting.

      Copyright cares about where code came from (which is a pain). Patent only cares about what code does.

      Copyrights are automatic, but most stuff that gets invented is never patented.

      Every piece of code written before 1984 would instantly be public domain.

    • by k98sven (324383) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:53PM (#9754389) Journal
      The nature of software licensing is such that there's frequent cases of derrived works from different sources, which is rarely the case in books.

      Not true. People use other people's code under license, and people use other people's written texts under license. There is no inherent problem here: A programmer knows when he is and is not writing original code just as well as a writer knows when he is producing original work as opposed to quoting.

      SCO claims that the committee that opened up that standard didn't have the authority to do so. Well, it's now years later, and there are countless works derived off of that original standard, and now SCO wants to undo it.

      Yes, and they can't.

      Basically this has the effect of destroying copyright in software.

      No it doesn't. SCO can claim whatever they want. It doesn't mean it'll stand up in court.

      How can anybody feel legally safe using any software product at any time when the history of every piece of code isn't out there for our perusal?

      Not difficult. As a programmer, don't use other people's code without knowing what copyright restrictions apply.

      No, you can't change those restrictions retroactively, except if a court finds it was an obvious mistake, and even then only within a reasonable timeframe. SCO has no case, yet you seem to assume they are right. One should never assume that about SCO.

      As a end-user you are not liable. You are only guilty of contributory copyright infringment if it can be proven that you knew or should have known that the software you were using contained someone else's code. How are you supposed to know that as an end-user? Especially if you're running a binary? That is just silly.

      As a software developer, for patents: Don't look at patents. If you can't afford to have a team of lawyers continously scrutinize your work for patent violations, the best option is not to look at anything you know is patented. In that way, you can always claim any infringment was unintentional, in which case you are unlikely to be forced to pay damages.
      (Given you take appropriate action when a patent owner does accuse you of infringement)

      As an end user: The same logic on contributory infringment applys.

      I agree though, patents are dangerous and will end up increasing the legal complexity and costs of developing software.

      But copyrights are not a problem in this sense.
    • I'm aware of no good solution to this problem.

      It's actually pretty easy - apply the idea / expression dichotomy, already clearly established in other areas of copyright law, to code. Distributing line-for-line copies of SCO's ELF implementation, which is their expression of an idea, is and should be illegal. But that's not what they're saying we did; they're saying they own the standard, they own the idea. Copyright law doesn't allow you to own an idea. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to be educated

  • Ha, ha! (Score:4, Funny)

    by homeobocks (744469) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @05:57PM (#9753826)
    People said that I was crazy for keeping all of my programs in "a.out" format . . . WHO'S CRAZY NOW?
  • A question. (Score:3, Funny)

    by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:01PM (#9753858) Homepage Journal
    Is Darl now so sad that one may take pity on him, rather than punch him in the nose?

    I need to know, as I am conflicted.

    On one hand, a good punch in the nose may do him good.

    On the other hand, hasn't he suffered enough? Why add injury to insult?

    hmm. Perhaps punching him in the nose until he is sad is the answer...

    Decisions, decisions.

  • ELF, COFF, and PE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tjrw (22407) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:04PM (#9753899) Homepage
    Oh, another little point that the article messes up, and that is somewhat amusing.
    ELF is not "similar to Microsoft DLLs", or that's badly worded. It's similar to Microsoft PE format.

    ELF is derived from COFF. It was mostly a rewrite of COFF with some bad assumptions and nn-portabilities fixed. It so happens that Microsoft's PE (PE-COFF) format is also derived from COFF and is very similar to ELF. If the format was somehow "protected" (which wouldn't be via copyright as pointed out elsewhere), then Microsoft are also guilty of copying. If SCO really own the copyrights to Unix (they don't), and if copyright applied here (it doesn't), then MS are in the same boat with everybody else. Lucky for them that SCO don't have a leg to stand on :-)

    Tim
  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:15PM (#9754018)
    TIS, UNIX International, and ELF 1.1

    That's a handy reference document for SCO, the version 1.2 of the specification. Too bad it wasn't the first published version:

    Google for "pfmt11.pdf"; here is the most interesting and damning excerpt:
    -
    "Some of the major reasons for selecting this format are the public nature of the specification and the fact that the PLSIG and ABICC standardization committees can enhance its formats."
    -

    This version came out of USL and UNIX International, who are jointly credited with the creation of the ELF 1.1 standard. Even if USL could argue rights, the current SCO can't. This standard, along with the DWARF standard, TET, ETET, and the last draft of Specification 1170 (the original Single UNIX Specification) were published on the UNIX International FTP server. UNIX International was a legal agent for USL at the time of publication.

    If you want to check into anything, check into the contractual agreements between USL and UI with regard to what rights UI did or did not have. You will find that they had full rights to publish the standard on behalf of their member USL.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I was a Novell/USG ("UNIX Systems Group") employee at the time. Novell/USG was comprised of the NWU ("NetWare for UNIX"), NUC ("NetWare UNIX Client"), and the former USL. I'm one of the people who rescued the public content of the UNIX International FTP server and found it a new home at various other corporate sites when UNIX International effectively disolved in 1994. One of the documents rescued was this very document.

    -- Terry
  • by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... m ['nga' in gap]> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:32PM (#9754194) Homepage Journal

    From: Sandeep Gupta
    Date: Tuesday, july 20, 2004 12:53 AM
    Subject: TRANSFER

    Sandeep Gupta

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am fine today and how are you? I hope this letter will find you in the best of health. I am Sandeep Gupta, the VP of "Engineering", of the "Santa Cruz Operation (SCOX)", a subsidiary of the SCO Group (SCOX).

    SCOSource (SCOX) was set up by SCOsource chief Chris Sontag, to manage the excess FUD accruing from Intellectual Property Claims and its allied products as a domestic increase in the Copyright products to develop the litigation in the Linux Lawsuit producing areas. The estimated annual revenue for 1999 was $45 Billion US Dollars Ref. FMF A26 Unit 3B Paragraph "D" of the Auditor General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Report of Nov. 1999 on estimated revenue.
    ....

    No, I can't do any more, it's too much like making fun of the mentally deficient.
  • by eventhorizon5 (533026) <ryanNO@SPAMtliquest.net> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @06:32PM (#9754195) Homepage
    There's some weird errors in the article, especially since it comes from a Linux magazine:

    "ELF is sorta like Microsoft's DLLs and was developed by AT&T's Unix System Labs as part of the Unix Application Binary Interface (ABI) before Unix was sold to Novell in 1993."

    ELF is not like Microsoft's DLLs. ELF is a binary executable format, and is comparable to Microsoft's PE executable format (am i correct on that?) used in their EXE files. Unix shared libraries are comparable to Windows DLLs. Also, that's the first time I've ever seen the word "sorta" in an article. hmmm....

    They also don't mention that almost every Unix OS uses the ELF format (as far as I've seen).

    "The Free Software Foundation is also the creator of the GPL, the viral license that makes Linux so provocative."

    Is this a statement from the Linuxworld author or SCO? SCO claimed the GPL was a "viral" license, but if that is coming from Linuxworld then something's wrong.

    "It also says the journaled file system (JFS) module from later versions of AIX, which SCO believes may derive from the JFS Unix, is in Linux 2.6. - MOG"

    what's "the JFS Unix"?

    Anyway, SCO is going insane and should hopefully die soon. But the author of that article needs to learn more about Linux first lol (especially since it's a Linux magazine).

    -eventhorizon

  • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel,hedblom&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:06PM (#9754513) Homepage Journal
    Just as the share price is slipping below they release this. I cant imagine this being a coincidence. In court they have said nothing about this at all. They have been ordered to provide proof of what specifically linux infringes on, not only the IBM stuff, and has brought nothing but "the dog ate my homework". This despite two court orders to bring forward specifications like this.

    The board is surely behind this and i suspect the SCO laywers are furious. Now they have to explain to the court why this was so damn hard to bring forward in a court with two orders hanging around their neck while it was this easy to tell the media.

    Share price up tomorrow and then as theese unfounded allegations get shot down it will fall again.
  • by utlemming (654269) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:16PM (#9754620) Homepage
    Finally, we found those millions of lines of code. We just thought they were talking about source code and they were talking about compiled code. It all makes sense now...
  • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity.sbcglobal@net> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:20PM (#9754640) Homepage Journal
    Is lifting elves anything like tossing dwarves?
  • by Black Art (3335) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:35PM (#9754769)
    I guess that they really are Sauron.

    "One OS to rule them all and in the darkness bind them."
  • by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @07:38PM (#9754796)
    SCO stock's inside trading record shows five automatic sell orders and only two regular sells in recent History (Going back to Sept. of last year). No inside trades have been reported since April 7th. There are no buys or automatic buys (0).

    Largest number of transactions (by far) and largest total value (by a smaller ratio) is Director Thomas P. Raimondi.

    Gasparro, Larry (VP), Broughton, Reginald (SR VP), and Bench, Robert K. (CFO) all appear on the list. Bench owns (or owned by the most recent record) roughly 2.4 times as much stock as the next largest investor on the list.

    Hunsaker, Jeff F. is the only person appearing on the list who is not shown with a position in the company described to explain why he is an insider, but other sources confirm he was a SR VP.

    Interestingly, Darl's name does not appear at all on the inside trading list.
  • by DavidTC (10147) <[slas45dxsvadiv. ... ] [neverbox.com]> on Tuesday July 20, 2004 @09:23PM (#9755594) Homepage
    Okay, even ignoring the fact that the old SCO helped write the public domain document, this is a new level of crackheadedness even for SCO...because you can't 'own' standards like that.

    There are three ways of 'owning' a standard:

    The first is patents. For example, something about Betamax tapes were patented, and thus people had to license the standard from the owner, Sony. SCO has no patents, so can't possibly have one over ELF, so let's move on.

    The second is trademarks. For example, Firewire is trademarked by Apple. This doesn't stop anyone from making Firewire ports on their laptop, but it does stop them from calling them Firewire ports, without paying a fee. Likewise, anyone can impliment ISO-9001, but you have to get certified if you want to call yourself that. (Technically, I don't think these are trademarks, they're 'seal of approval' marks, but they're under trademark law somewhere.)

    The third is ownership of the copyright of the standards document. Quite a few standards organizations make their money this way.

    While I know SCO does not have a trademark on ELF, and I doubt they somehow have copyright on the standards document that someone else released into the public domain before they were born, the important thing to remember is that only patents can stop someone from implimenting a standard.

    I can sit here without having pay any money to Phillips for their standards documentation or their trademark and build a CD player. I can't call it a 'CD' player without getting their approval, and I'll have a hell of a time building it without looking at their documenation, but as all patents on basic CD players obviously expired already (Yeah, it's been 20 years.), I can build one, and even sell it.

    As there never were any ELF patents, there has never been anything to prevent anyone else from implimenting it, period. Even if TISC trademarked 'ELF' and sold the standards documentation, it's still perfectly legal for someone to use that document, or in fact any way of figuring out the format they want, and impliment a system that uses ELF, even if they have to call it 'HOBBIT' or something. (Remember, reverse engineering for compatiblity reasons is still legal.)

    (For everyone still paying attention, there is standard information in the format, and I can just hear everyone thinking 'what about copyright on those bytes?'. Well, no go. It's been explicitly ruled that, since copyright is only on creative works, and as information required by a standard is not 'creative', but 'factual', thus, you can't copyright it.)

Make headway at work. Continue to let things deteriorate at home.

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