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SCO Extorting Unixware Licenses to Linux Users? 576

An anonymous user noted that SCO will sell you Unixware if you want to "Legitimize" your usage of Linux at your company. If you buy the license, you will be held blameless for your transgressions against SCO! Pricing has yet to be determined for the special licenses, but I suspect that for any value greater than zero, there are going to be a fair number of angry users.
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SCO Extorting Unixware Licenses to Linux Users?

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  • dupe (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:29AM (#6498951)
  • Uhm.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by GearheadX ( 414240 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:31AM (#6498972)
    Didn't we hear about this yesterday? This isn't exactly new, news. How about waiting for a new bit on it until we actually have some new information. Like IBM or some other simliarly large corporation bending SCO's back the wrong way until it crumples like tin foil?


    We know that SCO is being a naughty boy.

    We don't need to be reminded about it every day.
  • by opkool ( 231966 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:40AM (#6499080) Homepage
    See it here. [redhat.com]

    A sample of this, in perfect "Management-Speak":

    * Do I need to buy a SCO license?

    SCO has not demonstrated that any infringement exists, nor has it established that it owns derivative works in UNIX. Nothing has been proven to establish that such a license is needed.

    Which, translated into English says:

    * Do I need to buy a SCO license?

    Not at all

    You go, RedHat!


  • by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:41AM (#6499086)
    Not quite as funny as the first few times this comment was posted.
  • No need to pay. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgroarty ( 633843 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ytraorgcm.nairb}> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:44AM (#6499141) Homepage
    SCO has acknowledged that they make claims against 2.4, not 2.2. They also haven't yet made the specific claims public.

    For desktops and servers, stay the course, but do your research now and be sure you're able to step back to 2.2 should SCO's claims prove valid. With 2.2, you give up some performance and compatibility with a few newer peripherals. But ducking down to 2.2 while the allegedly offending code is removed from 2.4 will cover your business. Be very surprised if it takes more than just a few weeks for an untainted 2.4 branch to be released.

    The one thing you should not do is to purchase an SCO license without your legal department fully reviewing the terms of the license. By entering into a license agreement with SCO, your company could find itself vulnerable in all kinds of new ways. If SCO is turning into a pure litigation company, you don't want to be on their customer list!

  • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:45AM (#6499151) Journal
    -1 : Redundant [slashdot.org]
  • Re:Haha (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trigun ( 685027 ) <evil@@@evilempire...ath...cx> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:47AM (#6499172)
    SMP came from Alan Cox's work with Caldera-sponsored equipment. A portion of NUMA came from IBM, as did the RCU which allowed greater scalability of the SMP kernel, mostly from removing overhead and latency with talking to many procs. The RCU which was sponsored through IBM, actually came from an acquisition of IBM, who essentially wrote it from scratch. It is the licensing terms and 'derivative work' stipulations which cast doubt on much of the validity of the added code.

    Unfortunately, we will have to wait until April 2005 before we know exactly how far the term 'derivative work' encompasses. Is merely seeing Unix code enough to make any additional coding a derivative work? I say no, SCO is saying yes.

    And oh yeah, go back under the bridge, troll. That wasn't even creative. j00 ()w|\|z3r3d nobody.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:48AM (#6499181)
    McBride made it clear on that interview yesterday that 2.2 kernel is clean.

  • Dear SCO, (Score:5, Informative)

    by yeremein ( 678037 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:49AM (#6499198)
    First, the premise of your case--you claim that your UNIX on x86 market share was unfairly eroded because enterprise features which you claim as your IP (including NUMA and RCU) were misappropriated into the Linux kernel. This argument doesn't hold much water, for two reasons:

    (1) These features were never present in your own UNIX offering. They were not even developed by SCO/Caldera; they were developed by Dynix, which is now a subsidiary of IBM. Because these features were developed for SVR5, you claim they are derivative works of SVR5 and therefore your own intellectual property. The legitimacy of this claim depends upon your contracts with IBM; it is not as black and white as you make it out to be. When asked whether the code supposedly copied from SVR5 originated in BSD, you respond that this is high end "enterprise" code which isn't present in BSD--but it's not present in SVR5 either. Your claims on this matter are misleading.

    (2) To state that Linux stole your market is preposterous, since you yourself were a Linux value-added reseller. In fact, you actively contributed to the development of enterprise features for the Linux kernel. You even cooperated with IBM in the Trillian Project (SMP on Linux). Your previous CEO, Ransom Love, spoke of unifying UNIX and Linux into a single platform. Now you turn and say that an enterprise-ready Linux took you completely by surprise, even though you helped bring it where it is.

    You portray yourself as a protector of intellectual property rights, but then you seek to wrest control of Linux from its creators on the basis of unproven allegations of copyright infringement. Your arrogance and hypocrisy know no bounds. Linux development has been very transparent, as Linus Torvalds has said. If you were really interested in protecting the intellectual property of all parties involved, you would work with the kernel developers to find out which parties contributed your intellectual property to the kernel and seek relief from them and/or allow the infringing code to be removed. Even if this would disable Linux SMP for a time, there are millions of Linux users running uniprocessor systems who were never infringing on your IP in the first place, and should not have to pay you a license fee. Furthermore, your move to collect license payments from Linux users without identifying specifically what they are licensing or even proving that you have a claim on Linux at all is fraudulent.

    Your proposed Linux licensing program amounts to the wholesale theft of years of effort from thousands of Linux contributors. You have profited from their efforts for nearly a decade, and now you stab them in the back and bite the hand that fed you. Since you could not compete in the marketplace, you resort to barratry, racketeering, and extortion.

  • by jobsagoodun ( 669748 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:54AM (#6499268)
    I include it verbatim, to save you using the link [yahoo.com]
    SCO has made a big noise about registering SVR4
    copyrights and announced their linux liscensing
    plan, which they call a UNIX liscensing plan. Looks
    like they're going for $1500 per LINUX seat for Unixware
    liscense to emdemnify from lawsuit.
    HOWEVER everything is not as the media is reporting...

    The copyright they registered is a 20 page revision
    to SVR4 (i.e SVR4.1ES) registration number TX-5-705-356.
    You can verify this at:


    The original UNIX copyright was never registered to Novell,
    and is currently registered to (SURPRISE!) AT&T.

    I'm not sure about the legal ramnifications, I believe
    that SCO has the right to copyright derivitive works
    in their aggreement with Novell. However, a search at:


    under the tab "Copyright ownership documents,
    such as name changes and transfers" shows no
    record of any copyright transfers to SCO Group.

    In short, despite what is being widely reported,
    SCO still has not acquired (and may not be able
    to acquire) the copyright that they are
    threatening to use to sue LINUX users.
    (Copyrights MUST be registered before lawsuits
    may be filed).
  • What do you mean? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gotr00t ( 563828 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @10:54AM (#6499271) Journal
    You're probably trolling, but I would have to say that you're an absolute idiot if you believe SCO's position. I, for one, appreciate copyright, and believe that it is what keeps innovation in the world going (alongside with patents), but when they are abused, then we get angry.

    Face the facts. All SCO has done is blabber on and on about how they think that Linux contains UNIX code and not backing up their claims about it with any substantial information. Their claims about SMP and business related aspects are total BS, as even before IBM involvement, Linux was a very mature OS. Right now, their third rate OS Unixware is capable of 8 processor SMP, while Linux is capable of up to 64. Why would any intelligent person take parts for a Mustang from an Escort?

    Their claims will not hold up in a court of law. If you think that any company can just make random claims and extort money off of the hard work of others, then you obviously are not familliar with the legal process. The very notion that SCO is selling licenses to UnixWare for Linux, BEFORE a trial even started, just proves that they are dishonest in making a licensing scheme for a product that they did not prove was theirs.

    The only solid evidence that SCO may have is the fact that there are portions of similar code in Linux and in SVR4 UNIX, the latter of which they own. Recently, the code, all 80 lines of it, was shown to some people who signed a non-disclosure agreement. Apparently, not all the people who viewed it had to sign, a mistake on their part, and it seems that even these 80 lines are kind of a stretch. There were no line numbers, no filenames, no function names on the demosnstration packet. Sometimes, there were portions that made no sense at all, like identical comments next to completely different portions of code. SCO claims that there are tens of thousands more, and Sontag even made that claim that there were files that were directly taken from UNIX. If any of that crap is true, then why did they show only 80 lines of it, where most of it was kind of a stretch?

    Linux was developed through the most transparent means possible, and it is possible to see where almost every feature of the kernel came from. The developers were even very careful about the small portions that IBM did contribute, and added it in after much verification.

    In conclusion, if you're not trolling, then you're either misinformed, hate Linux, or are just ignorant. I don't care whether or not you hate Linux or free software, but telling lies about it makes you no better than SCO.

  • by k12linux ( 627320 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @11:04AM (#6499366)
    I keep hearing that if SCO prevails, the offending code can be replaced quickly. Why not replace it NOW?

    Because SCO will only show someone the "offending code" if they sign an NDA. The NDA would then prevent them from removing the code if it exists.

    This shouldn't be a surprise. SCO doesn't want any alleged code to be removed. As soon as it is removed they no longer have anything to threaten customers with and force a license purchase. After all, a threat of "upgrade your kernel or pay us $1000" won't make nearly as much money as a threat of "pay us $1000 or risk a lawsuit."

    The worst thing that could happen to SCO right now would be if the case was mainlined and taken to court quickly. I think this would also be the best thing for Linux too.

    Note to SCO lawyers... this posting is mearly my opinion and IANAL.

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @11:56AM (#6500015)
    >>most of these guys got options when the stock was at $.66 just before all of this craziness started.

    Actually, in January, when scox was still planning the lawsuit. SCOX insiders gave themselves a boatload of shares for - get this - $0.001 each. So insiders could sell shares for one cent each and still make 1000% profit. SCOX stock is now $13/share. Insiders are selling like mad.

    http://www.nasdaq.com/asp/Holdings.asp?symbol=SC OX &selected=SCOX
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:01PM (#6500075)
    Sun even more so. Unlike Msft, Sun insisted that their contributions remain confidenctial. Also, unlike msft, Sun got a buttload of option given to them by scox.

    Sun is saying that they were just buying drivers from scox. Since when does a purchase like that come with a few hundred thousand options? The options are for $1.83, SCOX now selling for $13.
  • by ctid ( 449118 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:09PM (#6500190) Homepage
    There's a lot of useful legal information in this linuxtoday article [linuxtoday.com]

    Amongst many gems there is this,

    Still, Moglen believes that, "If SCO really wishes to enforce these claimed copyright rights. I would suggest that they sue a Linux distributor. If the FSF distributed Linux, I would welcome such a lawsuit." And, speaking for himself and not the FSF, "I have renewed my offer to assist free software developers who may feel the need for legal assistance" because of SCO's recent actions.

    I would strongly recommend reading the whole of the article I have linked. Moglen's stuff starts with the heading "Legally Speaking". It is very informative and quite reassuring.
  • by felis_panthera ( 160944 ) <felis.panthera@gma i l .com> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:17PM (#6500302) Homepage
    ...but I figured this was the best approach for figuring out exactly what SCO is trying to sell. Nowhere on the SCO page could I find any reference to this new "license" for UnixWare. In fact, the only place I could find any of their EULA information was by trying to download some of there software (I decided to check the EULA on UnixWare 7.1.3).

    The only place that I can even see a mention of source code is here:

    "Software" is the machine-readable (object) code portion of the Product and any human readable code contained on the media.

    which reads to me that they don't give out their source code. Also, they have admitted here:

    Caldera, the Caldera logos, Caldera OpenLearning, Caldera Volution, OpenLinux, Lizard, Webmin, SCO, The SCO Group, and associated logo, SCO OpenServer, SCO Open Server, ODT, Open Desktop, AIM Benchmark, and Hot Iron Awards are trademarks or registered trademarks of Caldera International, Inc. in the U.S.A. and other countries. Caldera Global Services is a service mark of Caldera International, Inc. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. UNIX and UnixWare, used under an exclusive license, are registered trademarks of The Open Group in the United States and other countries. SCO Legal Notice [sco.com]

    that Linux is not SCO, and SCO is not Linux. As well as a reference in the EULA that there may be free software adhering to the GNU Public License included with their products.

    So unless someone who was authorized to view their code (ie a real SCO developer), there should be no way that SCO Unix code could have found its way into the kernel. They also make no claims about Unix being SCO property in either their legal documentation or their EULA.

    Either they haven't drafted this new license, or they're talking out of their asses. Any votes as to which??

  • by Kismet ( 13199 ) <pmccombs@NoSpAM.acm.org> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @01:11PM (#6501086) Homepage
    Yes, in order to claim infringement in a court of law (in the U.S.), your copyright must be registered.

    It is true that any work you produce can be automatically copyrighted unless you specifically state otherwise. You do not need to register anything to put a copyright notice on your work.

    However, if you want to litigate your copyright, you have to make sure that you have registered the copyright with the government. You can register it after the work has been created, although there may be some date limitations on certain types of media.

    Copyright is transferable, but again, this needs to be documented.

    If AT&T has never transferred their copyright with the Unix IP that was sold, then AT&T still owns the copyright on SVr4. The copyright that SCO has registered is either for a derivative SVr4 that they are basing their claims on, or else it infringes on the AT&T copyrights, which could be a serious problem for SCO.

    If SCO bases their licensing scheme on this new copyright, then I suggest that this license is fraudulent, and should be investigated.

    At any rate, the original SVr4 code never had any of the features that SCO claims infringe. Apparently they are saying that they own the copyright to IBM's work because IBM put it into an SVr4 derived system. IBM also donated some code to Linux. Because IBM's code is in a derivative work, SCO says they have a contract that gives them rights to it, and that the existence of such code in Linux is a violation of said contract. So, really, it is unclear just what SCO is claiming copyright on and what they are claiming is a license violation.

    It is extremely doubtful that SCO can claim copyright on IBM's code. In fact, it is unlikely that SCO has a single claim that is anything but dubious. I am very curious about why David Boies would further damage his reputation over such a poor case.

    I believe that the original authors of a work may revoke a transfer of copyright, but I think that this does not apply to a work-for-hire. In this case, I am not sure if the original company has the same right. It may be, however, that AT&T becomes a big player in this debacle before all is said and done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @01:17PM (#6501198)
    Actually this could very well be fraudulent conveyance. They are attempting to sell something for a fee without first having established the fact that they have any right to do so. Further, this action seems clearly to fly in the face of the GPL.

    Mind, as completely slimey as the action is, and it is, it is also brilliant. They know the door is going to slam shut on them sooner or later. They could easily lose the case on any number of grounds, or that by the time this comes to trial the offending elements (if there are any) of the kernel will have been purged. Their hope clearly is to exploit ignorance and fear in the interim.

    However, they do risk being counter-sued nine ways from Sunday for selling licenses they have no right to sell, or, that in the end had no real value.
  • SEC Complaint Filed (Score:4, Informative)

    by psykocrime ( 61037 ) <[mindcrime] [at] [cpphacker.co.uk]> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @02:46PM (#6502170) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I did my part and filed a complaint with the SEC, concerning the allegations that this whole lawsuit was just a scheme to artificially inflate the price of SCOX stock, so the big shareholders could bail out and profit.

    Here's what I sent the SEC:

    Names, Address, Telephone #s and Other Biographical Information
    about Individuals Involved

    Darl McBride, CEO, other executives

    How you Learned about the Transaction or other Activity

    Published media report, SEC filings, Internet postings on Slashdot.org

    Details About the Transaction(S)

    It appears that top executives at SCOX gave (and exercised) generous stock options at an artificially low price, to themselves, immediately before filing a lawsuit against IBM; regarding alleged IP violations relating to the Linux operating system. Since that time, SCOX stock has increased in value dramatically. Based on the volume of insider trades that have taken place since the suit was file, it appears that this suit was filed only to inflate the value of the SCOX stock, so they could "cash out" and pocket millions. There is also a strong possibility that these same executives know the suit is without merit, as they knowingly distributed the disputed code under the terms of the GPL license, which Linux is provided under. It also appears that if any IP made it's way from SCOX's code into Linux' code, it was done by an employee of SCOX (when they were previously known as Caldera ).

    If on the Internet, All Relevant Internet Addresses

    www.caldera.com, www.sco.com

    Any Additional Information
    Use this area to add any additional information that you wish.

    http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1102542/0 00 104746903023599/a2114384zs-3.htm

    http://www.nasdaq.com/asp/Holdings.asp?symbol=SC OX %20&selected=SCOX

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/07/22/1410 20 4&mode=thread&tid=106&tid=185

    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/07/22/ 05 28203&mode=thread&tid=106&tid=185

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/07/21/1516 24 0&mode=thread&tid=130&tid=185&tid=187&tid=190&tid= 88

    http://linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/20030722015 26 NWBZLL

  • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @03:39PM (#6502951)

    It's not a problem for the latest tactic. If a Judge determines that SCO bought Calera -- without knowing that Caldera was distributing their stolen copyrighted code -- and they continued the normal operations of Caldera until such time as they figured out that "Hey, this is our code!" , then they promptly took legal action, it could be argued that they did not knowingly agree to the license.

    Under this tactic, SCO is saying "well, fine, we won't distribute Linux (thus we won't be subject to the GPL), we'll just attack distributors who don't have licenses for our copyrighted code by taking them to court for copyright infringement.

    Under this scenario, SCO doesn't care if the GPL is valid or invalid. SCO doesn't care if the IP was wrongfully contributed and distributed under the GPL... Under this scenario, SCO would be arguing that they haven't done any distributing, and thus they can prevent people from distributing these unauthorized copies of their work... unless they have a license... because SCO is a third party who has nothing to do with the GPL granted between the code-theif and the recipient.

    Of course this means that they can't knowingly continue to violate the GPL by distributing Linux in any form.

    The critical flaw with this whole scenario is in the GPL's clause indicating that the code cannot be distributed period if there is a license encumbrument. It goes a little weird when the contribution is by a code-theif who can't be trusted to reveal all their contributions and that the copyright is in the hands of a third party who won't reveal what the code-theif contributed either.

    Unfortunately, if SCO is aruging that the code is a trade secret and is protected by copyright, they might just make it nearly impossible for anyone to definitively purge the secretly copyrighted code from the kernel.

    So under this maligned idea, this will either push the kernel back a few years, or blow over when a Judge decides that either 1. SCO did release the code under the GPL, 2. The code is not stolen, 3. that the code is not a trade secret and SCO has an obligation to minimize everyone's damages by revealing where the copyrighted code resides.

    IANAL, etc, it's just an idea. I think any judge in their right mind would at least argue #3. #1 and #2 are not crystal clear to me. After all, if Caldera for example, was cooking their books, would SCO be on the hook by discovering it and revealing it, even months after buying them?

    SCO is arguing that Caldera, like everyone else distributing Linux is/was guilty of an illegal act.

  • by alienw ( 585907 ) <alienw.slashdot@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @04:40PM (#6503914)
    It's not illegal to threaten litigation, at least if you intend to follow through (and do). Ever hear of cease-and-desist letters?
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @04:47PM (#6503995) Homepage Journal
    You are making the point that I made originally, and so I agree with you ;-) See my comments in this posting [slashdot.org].

    You are replying to a side-discussion on the specifics of copyright law WRT yanking a copyrighted document from a person who recieved it thinking that they were given the file by someone who had the right to do so, but then found out otherwise.

    I've been corrected on the point, and am still awaiting confirmation from my lawyer. I would be very happy to be wrong, but I'm skeptical (as, I guess, I should be).

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!