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The Almighty Buck

SCO Shows 80 Lines of Evidence? 940

cheesybagel writes "In this EETimes article SCO claims to have shown their evidence to our independent analyst friends from the Aberdeen Group. The evidence, all 80 lines of it, allegedly even has identical comments."
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SCO Shows 80 Lines of Evidence?

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  • When... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:22AM (#6142424)
    will this end?
  • by gazbo ( 517111 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:22AM (#6142426)
    That maybe SCO are telling the truth - that maybe there is ripped off code? Undoubtedly if the claim was that MS had included GNU code in their apps, people would automatically presume guilt; why the immediate defensiveness now?

    Especially as we have 80 lines of identical code including comments which is the real kicker.

    • by WeiszNet ( 88819 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:24AM (#6142440) Homepage
      True, but one cannot deny the fact that SCO does act very weird. Usually when some company "steals" GPL code, the copyright holder gives the company a chance to correct his mistake (and shows proove immediatly).

      SCO does not do all this, which does not make it look honest.
      • by dfeist ( 615612 ) <mail@dankradfeist.de> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:31AM (#6142461) Homepage
        Not only that, but they contradict themselves every few days. Sometimes it's copyright, sometimes patents, sometimes trade secrets.

        And umm, how can the Linux users be guilty if IBM put their code into the kernel source? They can't. If it was about proprietary software, noone would say all the licensees are guilty. But it isn't really another case then this - IBM gave it to the community under GPL. Some proprietary company gave it to the users under a proprietary license. Where's the difference? It's not the source, but I don't think that is important since the binary is generated from the copyrighted code, so it is copyrighted, too.
        • by gmack ( 197796 ) <(ten.erifrenni) (ta) (kcamg)> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:29AM (#6143112) Homepage Journal
          The really strange thing is that any sysV code would have far predated IBM's involvement with kernel development.

          As we know from previous inverviews IBM hsa a _very_ strict disclosure policy where every bit of code relsed has to be checked first. It's also been noted that the Linux labs are *not* allowed to view source code from AIX.

          I imagine the reason they don't want to publically give out this information because that would allow the OSS community to find out where the code actually came from. I'm guessing it's third party and neither SCO or Linux has IP rights over the code in question.
      • by surprise_audit ( 575743 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:18AM (#6142677)
        ...the copyright holder gives the company a chance to correct his mistake (and shows proove immediatly)

        It's been said here before - if SCO tell us which bits are "stolen", those bits would be replaced very fast by the kernel developers. This would not be optimum for SCO, because they could not then demand licensing from all Linux users. If they can get a judge to confirm the theft without disclosing to the public where the stolen code is, then they'll have a legal leg to stand on when holding the entire Unix world to ranso

        • by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:02AM (#6142936)
          And I still don't buy it either. It's not like any other IP enforcement we've ever seen. Not even the RIAA/MPAA act like this:

          Imagine the RIAA comes and tells you that one of the CDs in your collection is a pirated copy, but they won't tell you which, and you must start immediately paying them royalties, along with fees for past damages.

          Doesn't sound very ethical now does it? "Fair" would be indicated the infringing code so that it could be removed, and charging for damages of the use up to the point in time which it was removed. Making someone pay while not giving the opportunity to fix the problem is simply extortion.
        • wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:09AM (#6142981) Homepage Journal
          SCO has no leg to stand on here. Even if all of their absurd claims are true, no-one is liable beyond the point at which SCO could have provided them with information to correct the matter. Assuming SCO's right, they could tell IBM and the community exactly what lines of code are identical, and provide real evidence to prove that the code was copies from SCO => Linux. The offending code would then be immediately removed and replaced, ending further continuation of the problem. SCO has not done that, so they cannot collect on any damages past the point at which they could have done such.
        • by timmyf2371 ( 586051 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @12:03PM (#6143336)
          It's also been said here before, many times in fact, that SCO's Linux product was released and wasn't even pulled when they first announced that their IP was in the Linux code.

          It's no excuse that their code verification process didn't pick up this fact - IANAL, but doesn't this mean SCO have released their IP under GPL?

        • by schon ( 31600 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @12:07PM (#6143364)
          It's been said here before - if SCO tell us which bits are "stolen", those bits would be replaced very fast by the kernel developers.

          Yes, and it's true - however your conclusion has no merit.

          This would not be optimum for SCO

          Wrong. This would indeed be optimum for SCO.

          If the alleged material has any value at all to SCO, SCO would want to stop people from distributing it as soon as possible, so that they can claim damages.

          By failing to disclose the alleged code, all they're doing is proving to any judge involved that the code is worthless, and therefore should not be considered when assessing damages to SCO.

          If they can get a judge to confirm the theft without disclosing to the public where the stolen code is, then they'll have a legal leg to stand on when holding the entire Unix world to ranso

          Bullshit. All a judge would do is order people to stop distributing the "stolen code" - and a judge can't do that without telling people what the hell it is that they should stop doing.

          Anything else would be extortion.
    • by bheading ( 467684 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:41AM (#6142501)
      As the article points out, no-one knows that this code was SCO's to begin with. It could have found it's way from Linux to SCO's code. It could have bubbled it's way up from the earlier BSD releases. Who knows ?

      If the case was really that simple it sounds like it's open-and-shut. It's hard to understand why SCO won't show it publicly, or allow anyone to see it without making them sign a huge NDA. What do they have to lose ?

      And even then, the 80 lines would have to be pretty critical to form the basis for claims of $1bn in damages. How many thousands of lines of code are there in Linux (or any other OS) and how many blocks of 80 lines are singularly critical to the whole functioning of the OS ?
    • by aborchers ( 471342 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:43AM (#6142512) Homepage Journal
      I don't think anyone has denied the possibility that their claims might be true. The criticism has been about how they have conducted themselves. If SCO wasn't run by a bunch of ligitous peckerheads, they would have announced the infringment and it would have been removed from the Linux code. However, they're more interested in flexing their FUD to either (a) extort whatever they can get from IBM et al, or (b) undermine the credibility of (non-SCO) Linux.

      What this shows me is that OSS unfortunately lets jerks into the party as well as people who want to play fair and make a contribution to the community. These people better enjoy it while it lasts and hope for their big payday, cause they'll never eat lunch in this town again...

    • by Your Anus ( 308149 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:56AM (#6142564) Journal
      It shouldn't be all that hard to prove where the code came from. Anything that gets into the linux kernel is posted on the linux-kernel mailing list. I would think one could simply grep the archives, given the lines of code/comments in question.
    • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:59AM (#6142577) Homepage Journal
      Its irrelevent. I am sure if SCO opened their code to full inspection, they would have numerous GPL violations. Thats just how business goes these days. Thats why you see big companies settling out of court. And thats one of the major reasons for the patent frenzy. So, so what if their is 80 lines of stolen code. Lets see how much GPL/LGPL/other license code is hidden in the SCO code....
    • by cookd ( 72933 ) <douglascook@ju[ ]com ['no.' in gap]> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:09AM (#6142624) Journal
      I sincerely hope that all of this blows over. I'm very suspect of SCO's claims, especially since they won't let the evidence out, which means that they're going to charge royalties for everyone using their code without telling us exactly what we need to remove their code from Linux. Withholding the evidence is making everyone mad, and preventing us from "coming clean" by removing "their" code or even by licensing "their" Linux if we feel so inclined.

      However, let's assume that there are right -- they own Unix, and there are segments of code, up to 80 lines in length, that match between Linux and Unix. What does that show? Still nothing in itself. The code could also be in BSD, in which case it would be free and clear from any SCO claims (although if it lacks the appropriate copyright label, the Berkeley regents might have to send their agents over to rough Linus up a bit (grin)). Or something like that. The code might well be public domain stuff (from an academic paper, from some code library, etc.), so nothing to see.

      But assume SCO does own the code. We just rewrite those sections and call it good, right? Wrong. The sections are evidence of contamination, and it will be difficult to determine exactly how far the contamination goes. If someone could copy and paste SCO code, he/she was also probably doing other things -- opening the Unix code in one window, and writing a similar Linux routine in another window, referring back to the Unix code for a "how-to". This is also illegal, as such things need to be done via clean room reverse engineering procedures.

      SCO will then argue that the contamination is very deep. IBM and the Open Source people in general will argue that the contamination is insignificant. It might be hard to tell in some cases. SCO will argue that the design patterns in use in Linux were stolen from Unix, and that those design patterns are crucial IP. Everything built around that design will have to be rewritten, probably with a different design to prove that we aren't continuing to steal their precious design. And then everything that depends on that design will also have to be rewritten. Etc. Depending on how deep the problem goes (according to what the courts decide), it may or may not be feasible to rewrite the affected portions and send out patches. The problem is that lawyers may have to get involved, certifying that the portions rewritten comply with all necessary laws and no longer intrude on SCO's IP. It may be necessary to abandon portions of Linux entirely, perhaps importing replacement code from BSD or the like.

      In the meantime, all of the big fish who have been using Linux will be sued for royalties. I'm sure that many suits will be dismissed, but some will be upheld.

      Whether or not SCO wins, this will be a wakeup call. Before accepting GNU tools for use in the business, managers are now going to be asking, "how can we be certain that this code is legit?" It is a very valid question. All source has pedigree -- are there any portions of this code that might be discovered to belong to someone else? If so, what protects us from having that code yanked out from under us? Somebody could sue us for damages, refuse to license the code to us, and shut down our entire operation.

      If SCO wins, beyond the damage to Linux itself, a lot of people are going to get very nervous about using open source products in general in the business world. Even if they lose, things are still going to get a bit more tense, as you may have to prove the code's purebred pedigree before you can use it to run your IT department.
      • by kubrick ( 27291 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @12:26PM (#6143524)
        However, SCO aren't (currently) suing for breach of copyright. They are suing IBM for breaking their SCO Unix license by revealing trade secrets.

        They've muddied the waters by sending out their C&D to Linux customers, but they would have to prove the copyright breach pretty convincingly in the IBM case to get settlements from other companies -- and judges are normally very reluctant to decide issues outside the merits of the case at hand (although, of course, IANAL).

        There's always the chance that, if they manage to win this case, they'd be feeling pretty pumped, and take on IBM or another company in a wider-ranging suit which could cause the sorts of contamination problems you describe.

        Before accepting GNU tools for use in the business, managers are now going to be asking, "how can we be certain that this code is legit?"

        This is a question that all business users of code (open and closed) should be asking -- as MSSQL users found out when their use of the product was considered contributory infringement in the patent case Microsoft lost a little while ago. If the company selling you the product/service can't indemnify you from things like this, you need to be prepared for that contingency yourself.
    • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:30AM (#6142744) Homepage Journal
      SCO's evidence of origin and Function dictates form

      What proof did SCO present for the origin of both fragments of source code?

      What proof did SCO present to show the SCO code did not originally from old BSD,Linux or public domain publications?

      Who put the SCO source into Linux? - Was put there by Old Novell/SCO/Caldera in the first place?

      What proof did SCO provide to show that the person had access to SCO's Unix sources?

      The latter question raises another issue. The similarity is just as likely to be due to both operating systems performing the same role. Form is often directed by the function it performs. Function and variable names are often dictated by the API and common terminology.

      Both the current Linux and Unix kernel developers have attended the similar university courses and read the same publicly available documentation. The works of W. Richard Stevens are very influential as a reference toward modern Unix and Linux and have dictated the implentation of APIs and TCP/IP stacks in both.

      Copyright WHAT Copyright

      From Groklaw [weblogs.com].

      Now that copyright is back on the table in the SCO case, you might like to

      read the law on copyright. [copyright.gov]

      SCO held another telephone conference today, but you had to be on time. I tried to call in later, when I was free, to hear the recording, but although the operator told me it had been recorded, it wasn't being made available. She suggested I contact SCO and ask to hear it. Meanwhile, someone who did listen posted on Slashdot as "mec" and he or she heard this question and answer [slashdot.org]:

      [question #3] Stephen Shankland, CNET --

      "Q: Copyright office does not have an assignment on file [for the Unix copyrights from Novell]. 'Is it your understanding that the copyrights have not been registered yet?' A: 'Stephen is correct ... [if we need] we will change the assignment of copyright ...' [we can do that at any time]."

      If this is true, that they failed to register, it puts another interesting twist on this story. (Novell put a twist of its own, by posting a press release [http] on its site saying that while the Amendment that SCO sent them seemed to support their claim "that ownership of certain copyrights for UNIX did transfer to SCO in 1996", Novell doesn't seem to have the amendment in its own files, and patents for sure didn't transfer.)

      It's true you can register a copyright any time, but you can't sue [copyright.gov] for infringement until you have registered and you can't get certain damages for infringement that occured prior to registration: "Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin." Section 411 [http] says it precisely like this:

      " 411. Registration and infringement actions10 (a) Except for an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a), and subject to the provisions of subsection (b), no action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title...."

      You are limited as to remedies without registration, as Section 412 sets forth:

      " 412. Registration as prerequisite to certain remedies for infringement11 In any action under this title, other than an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a) or an action instituted under section 411(b), no award of statutory damages or of attorney'

    • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:36AM (#6142785) Homepage
      > Especially as we have 80 lines of identical code
      > including comments

      No. We have somebody who _says_ that 80 lines of code including comments are identical but who has entered into a secret agreement with SCO that lets SCO control what they say.
      • ...all they are claiming is that they have 80 lines that contain code and identical comments. They have not stated that the code itself is identical.

        This brings us back to a common coding practice: dumping the code and rewriting your own code underneath the comments. Still no data.

        IMESHO the NDA is safe to sign because The SCO Group are about to become a memory, a bad dream.

  • by doi ( 584455 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:22AM (#6142428)
    ...in only 80 lines of code? That's pretty efficient.
  • FUD! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j0nkatz ( 315168 ) * <(moc.keegsihpmem) (ta) (nona)> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:24AM (#6142436) Homepage
    Linux supporters, however, were quick to question the meaning of the evidence. âoeCan SCO prove that this code came from SCO to Linux, and not from Linux to SCO?â asked Jon âoeMaddogâ Hall, executive director of Linux International (Nashua, N.H.), a Linux advocacy organization. âoeOr did the code that's in SCO Unix come from a third source? Show me the facts,â he said.

    Not only have they NOT proved to the Linux community that the egg came before the chicken, but they have not even proved what "egg" this is. Is it IBM specific code? Is it the actual kernel??

    • Re:FUD! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sebi ( 152185 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:33AM (#6142471)
      From the article:
      "One could argue that developers could write exact or very similar code, but the developers' comments in the code are basically your DNA, or fingerprints, for a particular piece of source code"

      Find out who wrote it, ask who it was written for, and that should be the end of any doubt. But these are things that will happen in an eventual court case. SCO has definitely strengthened it's standing in the public eye. If their claims are any more valid, or actually simple deception remains to be seen.
      • Re:FUD! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by surprise_audit ( 575743 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:25AM (#6142712)
        Find out who wrote it, ask who it was written for

        Now there's a good point - maybe those blocks were written by the same people...

        If one (or more) of the early Unix developers later went on to contribute to the Linux kernel, any code they wrote may well have similar comments, due to being for similar functions.

        There's one hell of a lot of stuff in the kernel, developed by numerous people - is it beyond the bounds of possibility that some early Unix developer took an interest in Linux and maybe contributed code within his special area of interest?

    • Re:FUD! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Timesprout ( 579035 )
      They dont actually have to prove anything to the Linux community. They just have to convince a judge that the similarities in question do indeed represent a breach of contract for which IBM are liable.
      • Re:FUD! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SkArcher ( 676201 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:50AM (#6142536) Journal
        The burden of proof lies on the plaintiff - SCO has to show exactly hwere this code came from, who wrote it, when, why, and who for. Only if they can prove that lot AND can prove that there was no way it could of got into the Linux code except by the agency of IBM can IBM be found guilty.

        Of course, all this requires an unbiased court with no FUD pushing from M$^H^H outside parties.

        I'm still of the opinion that the most likely breach for this code to have come from would be SCO's own Linux/UNIX integration projects from a few years back.
  • Sarcasm mode on (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RighteousFunby ( 649763 ) <joe@@@vjoebaldwin...co...uk> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:26AM (#6142443) Homepage
    My god! What an awful lot of code that is!!!! That 80 lines took five minutes of developers precious time! It's theft! Treason, even! Hang them! Hang them all!

    Seriously, if it's 80 lines out of many thousands that they're worried about, they must be either crazy, or have a major inferiority complex...

    Oh wait! They're BOTH!
  • by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <giles.jonesNO@SPAMzen.co.uk> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:27AM (#6142448)
    Unless SCO are coming to my house to format my hard disk and install SCO Unix.

    Seriously though, I doubt I'm even using their stupid code, plus my distro of choice isn't commercial.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:27AM (#6142449)
    "The article also claims that Mac OSX is just as vulnerable to attacks as any other Linux based system."

    Get your facts straight first, Mac OSX is based on BSD - not Linux!
  • by jagilbertvt ( 447707 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:30AM (#6142459)
    The question I have is whether this is 80 lines of contiguous code, or if it's a line here and there. If it's just here and there, then it's quite easy for them to find matches, heck I bet it'd be pretty easy to find some comments that match too.
  • Ok, for the sake of discussion, let's assume that the 80 lines were lifted and it is deemed improper. I think we have a long way to go before that is established as fact, but if it is.....

    How in the world do you get us, /.'ers, to buy a license for code we ourselves modify? Just last week I had to fix some code in my kernel because the new gcc wouldn't compile it. Apparently there was a patch for it, but I had just turned off my broadband (not worth the $$$) and I needed to compile ppp into the code to get my modem to work. So, it was fix the code or wait for a CD to show up in the mail. I'm going to pay for this?
  • What a name (Score:3, Funny)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:34AM (#6142472)
    Jon âoeMaddogâ Hall, executive director of Linux International (Nashua, N.H.), a Linux advocacy organization. âoeOr did the code that's in SCO Unix come from a third source? Show me the facts,â he said.

    Quick show him the facts before he starts chasing parked cars
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:34AM (#6142473) Homepage Journal
    Many observers believe SCO's case is bolstered by the fact that it is represented by high-powered attorney David Boies, who prosecuted the Microsoft antitrust case and represented Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election vote-counting scandal.

    He also represented Napster. So far that's 0-3 loses (well, I guess he won the court battle with MS, but that didn't amount to a hill of beans).

    If David Boies takes the case, it means you'll probably lose.
  • Lawyer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FTL ( 112112 ) <slashdot AT neil DOT fraser DOT name> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:34AM (#6142474) Homepage
    Many observers believe SCO's case is bolstered by the fact that it is represented by high-powered attorney David Boies, who prosecuted the Microsoft antitrust case and represented Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election vote-counting scandal.

    Wait a minute. Didn't the Microsoft case collapse? And didn't Al Gore loose his case? So why is SCO's case being "bolstered" by using David Boies. Isn't Mr. Boies just a loser?

    (Nothing personal against David, just looking at the quoted record.)

    • Re:Lawyer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:56AM (#6142562)
      Didn't the Microsoft case collapse? And didn't Al Gore loose his case?

      If you look at the part of the Microsoft case that Boies was involved in, Boies clearly won. Microsoft was found to be a monopoly, and have acted illegally. The judge in the case went so far as to recommend that Microsoft be broken up. Even more telling he clearly embarrassed Microsoft's attorneys a number of times during the trial. Of course, the settlement turned out to be far less than a breakup, but that was more due to the DofJ caving during negotiations with MS than anything Boies did. And that finding of MS being a monopoly is going to affect MS for a long time in a variety of ways in other litigation.

      In the case of Al Gore's electiion challenge, Boies did lose. While I am not at all a fan of Dubya I think that in retrospect it was a reasonable outcome to a very difficult situation. Certainly post-mortem investigations showed that Bush probably did actually win the plurality of votes in Florida. Of course the fact that justice seems to have been served is purely accidental, and should be a warning that election processes are not robust enough in these close races.

      To me the disappointing result was the Napster result. I would have thought that things like the Betamax case would have provided a good base to win this one. I do not at all agree with the idea that a particular technology should be blamed for the way it is used.

      The other area of criticism of Boies that bears some scrutiny is that he was unethical during the Gore matter. This to me is the most severe issue of all. Of ourse I am sure SCO doesn't care about this.

      The choice of lawyer for SCO may well have come down to the fact that they need someone to handle a very high profile technology/IP case on a contingency basis. It may have boiled down to Boies being the best available.

    • Re:Lawyer (Score:3, Informative)

      by jenkin sear ( 28765 ) *
      Boies was (IIRC) the leader of the successful antitrust prosecution against IBM, back in the eighties- this was the first big high-tech antitrust case, and was clearly pretty successful.
  • by edgrale ( 216858 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:35AM (#6142480)
    So let me get this... 80 lines of code is what made Linux so popular? And the same 80 lines of code caused SCO profits to drop from about $200M/year to about $60M/year??

    Gimme a break, no one is going to believe that. As soon as they know what code is "dirty", if it even is, it is going to be removed.
    • by L. J. Beauregard ( 111334 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:14AM (#6142654)
      As soon as they know what code is "dirty", if it even is, it is going to be removed.

      Thereby depriving SCO of their revenue stream. They are trying to cast a cloud of FUD over the entire Linux and GNU codebase, to establish de facto ownership of the whole enchilada.

      Yes, it's like slapping a lien on your house over a couple of stolen teacups. What remains to be seen is whether the court will allow it. Can any lawyers comment? (Lawyers, please, not the zillions of IANALs that inhabit these parts.)

      • Thereby depriving SCO of their revenue stream. They are trying to cast a cloud of FUD over the entire Linux and GNU codebase, to establish de facto ownership of the whole enchilada.

        The instant they try it, they'll get shotgun blasted by the copyright holders of the portions of Linux they don't "own". They distributed Linux kernels for years under the GPL. Furthermore, they don't own what they didn't develop. Many of those owners will want legal relief for what SCO would steal from them. SCO is trying
  • by phre4k ( 627961 ) <esbenp@cs . a a u . dk> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:35AM (#6142482)
    I made a small perl script to count the lines of c code in the linux source (as shipped by redhat)

    use File::Find;

    find(\&wanted, ".");

    sub wanted {
    next unless /\.c$/;
    open C, $_;
    while () {$c++; }

    print "$c\n";

    There are about 3 million lines of code in the linux source. 80 lines are 0,003%. For SCO's sake i hope they have more evidence than these 80 lines - and that they can prove that the didn't rip them off them selves - either from linux or BSD.

  • by Ninja Programmer ( 145252 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:36AM (#6142485) Homepage
    If they are not, then I will be highly unimpressed if there are for identical /*'s and 40 identical */'s in the code.
    • by ArmorFiend ( 151674 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:17AM (#6142672) Homepage Journal

      At last, the copied code is revealed. Here it is!:

      Version 2, June 1991

      Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
      59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA
      Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
      of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.


      The licenses for most software are designed to take away your
      freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public
      License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free
      software--to make sure the software is free for all its users. This
      General Public License applies to most of the Free Software
      Foundation's software and to any other program whose authors commit to
      using it. (Some other Free Software Foundation software is covered by
      the GNU Library General Public License instead.) You can apply it to
      your programs, too.

      When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not
      price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you
      have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for
      this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it
      if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it
      in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things.

      To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that forbid
      anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to surrender the rights.
      These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you
      distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it.

      For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether
      gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that
      you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the
      source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their

      We protect your rights with two steps: (1) copyright the software, and
      (2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy,
      distribute and/or modify the software.

      Also, for each author's protection and ours, we want to make certain
      that everyone understands that there is no warranty for this free
      software. If the software is modified by someone else and passed on, we
      want its recipients to know that what they have is not the original, so
      that any problems introduced by others will not reflect on the original
      authors' reputations.

      Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software
      patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free
      program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the
      program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any
      patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.

      The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution and
      modification follow.
    • like music sampling? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 )
      if its fair use for musicians to a "sample" snippets of each other's code maybe its okay in software too. 80 lines out of tens of thousands is about the same the interval that a sample occupies in a 2 minute song.

      on a more serious note, could some lawyer answer the question of what pre-trial obligations SCO has to give the LINUX community a chance to rectify the errors. I've read that no actually dmamages can be claimed until the copyright infringement is made known to the offending party. As it is SCO

  • Where's the truth? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scalli0n ( 631648 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:37AM (#6142489) Homepage
    If SCO was really out to be honest, they'd show us the code. I, myself, want to see these 80 lines of code, because it could be anything! I also want to see where it came from; I want to be able to go to my /src/ directory and see the same 80 lines of code as they tell me were plaigarised
  • 80 lines Come on (Score:5, Informative)

    by Unleashd ( 664454 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:37AM (#6142490)
    A couple of years ago SCO worked with the linux community on trying to bring together Unix and Linux ... who is to say that their own programmers didn't insert this code durring that process?!?!
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by greppling ( 601175 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:41AM (#6142502)
    That must be ingenious lines of code. 1 billion / 80 = 12.5 million $ per line of code. Geez!

    Just think, if you write just one such line per day, you could start competing with Bill Gates' annual income.

  • by Chilles ( 79797 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:42AM (#6142508)
    We at IBM always laughed about the sillyness of SCO code and comments your honour, honestly, it wasn't theft, it was parody!
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:43AM (#6142511)
    Do they?

    Is it possible to submit a patch to some backwater part of the kernel that improves upon something rather mundane, the kind of thing that doesn't get your picture on the "Top 10 Kernel Gurus" list and then have the identity of the submitter slowly slip away into the ether?

    Or are the kernel submitters kept in some kind of list someplace along with the stuff they submitted?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:04AM (#6142601)
      First, all code is attributed in the changelog.

      Second, Linus most of the time ignores code which does not come from his trusted lieutnants. They, too, do proper attribution.

      Third, most code isn't accepted unless it's obviously correct (like small fixes) or has had some testing on the list first. Which means that the patch can probably be found in LKML.
  • by MrNop ( 609524 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:48AM (#6142529)
    âoePrior to IBM's involvement, Linux was the software equivalent of a bicycle. UNIX was the software equivalent of a luxury car. To make Linux of necessary quality for use by enterprise customers, it must be re-designed so that Linux also becomes the software equivalent of a luxury car. This re-design is not technologically feasible or even possible at the enterprise level without (1) a high degree of design coordination, (2) access to expensive and sophisticated design and testing equipment; (3) access to UNIX code, methods and concepts; (4) UNIX architectural experience; and (5) a very significant financial investment.â (Paragraph 84)
    80 LINES of code !

    âoeOver time, IBM made a very substantial financing commitment to improperly put SCO's confidential and proprietary information into Linux, the free operating system.â (Paragraph 94)
    80 LINES of code !

    âoeThe only way that the pathway is an âeight-lane highwayâ(TM) for Linux to achieve the scalability, SMP support, fail-over capabilities and reliability of UNIX is by the improper extraction, use, and dissemination of the proprietary and confidential UNIX Software Code and libraries. Indeed, UNIX was able to achieve its status as the premiere operating system only after decades of hard work, beginning with the finest computer scientists at AT&T Bell Laboratories, plaintiff's predecessor in interest. â (Paragraph 99)
    80 LINES of code !

  • by b1t r0t ( 216468 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:56AM (#6142560)
    Every version of the linux kernel and the diffs between it and the previous version is available. If SCO wouldn't be so cagey about the allegedly stolen code, someone could trace down the history of kernel changes and find out exactly when the code first appeared, and who submitted it.

    This isn't like the Cisco/Huawei case, where IOS has been proprietary for years, without an open source equivalent forked out of it in the distant past, and without various companies working with both codebases. In that case, there's nothing to cross-pollinate with, and copied code could clearly go in only one direction.

    And if it's not in the kernel, then it's not in Linux, is it? Linux is the kernel and the kernel alone. Everything else is GNU and other third-party utilities, and distro-specific stuff.

    Of course SCO wants to make it difficult because what they really want is to muscle someone (primarily IBM) into buying them out. If they made it easy for people to investigate, the truth would be found in a week, and their case would vanish. And people would also be working to replace the code in question, just as they did in the days of the BSD/AT&T debacle. I'm surprised they've let anybody see it yet.

  • Wasn't a good test (Score:5, Insightful)

    by confused one ( 671304 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:57AM (#6142565)
    I read the articles (there was more than one written). I read the comments by Aberdeen's rep. She said: Yep, that's the same code alright...

    Where's the analysis in this? 80 lines of code isn't damning. Where did it come from? Did she go back into the distro archives and find where and when it was put into the code? No. Did she check against the BSD codebase? NO. Did she even know what she was looking at? Probably not.

  • by attobyte ( 20206 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:57AM (#6142569)
    Could someone that seen the code tell you the comments so we could get it out of the Linux Kernel. I somewhat read the NDA and all I saw was stuff about code. It would be cool if that was a loophole SCO didn't think about.

  • by vandan ( 151516 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:59AM (#6142574) Homepage
    The Canopy Group [canopy.com] (owners of SCO) used to sing a different tune [caldera.com] a few years back...
    "The global demand for Linux-based Internet solutions is not only staggering â" but skyrocketing," said Ralph Yarro, president of the Canopy Group Investment Company. "Major solutions providers are under a great deal of pressure to provide a full range of Linux-based Internet solutions ranging from hand held devices to enterprise level connectivity. Leveraging the strength of Lineo in the embedded market will allow OpenLinux to scale to meet the needs of all business customers."

    Also from the same page the chairman of the Canopy Group Investment Company, Ray Noorda is a former Novell CEO.

    What do you think the chances are that Novell knew of the code copying (if it occured that is) but chose to not pursue it, and this Ray Noorda tipped The Canopy Group off as to the potential litigation value in it, so they bought it up, and drummed up a bit of support for it so they could turn around later and hit all the 'skyrocketing' growth potential Ralph Yarro was talking about?
  • Eureka! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:01AM (#6142585)

    Maybe someone at SCO ran The Bible Code [nmsr.org] on the Linux source and found the words "Linux, SCO, rip-off".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:02AM (#6142591)
    The following two posts, taken from previous stories concenrning SCO, quite beautifully sum up IBM's best potential defense.

    The first post [slashdot.org], taken from a June 3rd story [slashdot.org], points out the relative significance of a situation in which everything that SCO has said is true, and it even is a bit optimistic in favor of SCO's claims (but it still puts things in perspective):

    Ok so we have this quote:

    "The month of June is show-and-tell time," McBride said. "Everybody's been clamoring for the code...and we're going to show hundreds of lines of code."

    So lets assume "hundreds of lines of code" is our N value. Now let N equal... oh... we'll be lenient on our definition of "hundreds" and make N = 5000.

    Ok so we've got our hypothetical 5000 lines of offending code. Now lets count the number of lines in every .c file in linux-2.4.20.tar.bz2 ...

    TMPFILE=`mktemp /tmp/$0.XXXXXXX` for i in $(for i in $(for i in $(find ./|grep "\.c"|grep -v Documentation);do cat $i|wc -l;done);do echo $i;done);do echo -n $i+>>${TMPFILE};done;echo "0">>${TMPFILE};echo quit>>${TMPFILE};bc -q ${TMPFILE};rm ${TMPFILE}

    Which gives us 3332935 (including comments but hey we're lazy).

    And this seems reasonable give that according to this link [geocrawler.com] which shows ~1.8 million for a 2.2 kernel so yeah hey what's another 1.5 million between friends? (think of all the new hardware support)

    Ok so we've got our probably bogus number of ~3.3 million lines of code. Remember N? Come on you can do the next step its fun!

    5000 / 3332935 == 0.0015% and lets be super generous and assume comments make up 40% of our line count...

    5000 / 1999761 == 0.0025%

    I wonder what the statistical liklihood of having similiar blocks of code of some signifigant size that happen to be the same (excluding format and variable differences). I mean there's only so many ways one can _intelligently_ code a given function

    Given those kind of percentages I doubt a judge or jury could be convinced of any copyright infringement of any signifigance. It'd be kind like trying to sue a competing encyclopedia company for swiping that one entry in the "P" volume on "Petards" ("hoisting", "petard", look it up) from you and demanding millions of dollars in compensation for this plagerism (ok so this analogy sucks but I had petards on my mind so...)

    The second post [slashdot.org], taken from a June 6th story [slashdot.org], highlights the fact that something fishy would have had to have been going on within SCO's ranks for a block of code with full comments to be submitted for inclusion into the Linux kernel:

    Not having the benefit of seeing the code I'll have to assumme these comments are fairly overwhelming evidence wise.

    If you knowingly copy code, into a product that can be viewed by potentially millions, wouldn't you at least try to make it not resemble the original work.

    Yes, it is easy to catch the lazy cheaters, but if put some effort in it then it should be a little more difficult then running grep.

    I'm sure there are bound to be similarities here and there, coders no doubt ran into the same problems working on the same platform, but apparently these grievances were enough to goto court over.

    Obviously, we can surmise they understand their work enough to copy kernel code, so we know the individuals were at least someone intelligent.

    So, having in mind how code theft works, it doesn't make sense for something as obvious
  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:08AM (#6142621) Homepage
    This is a lengthy prediction, and I'll probably get modded down for it, but hey, Slashdot is all about having fun by voicing one's opinion, so here I go.

    You know and I know that SCO's case is meaningless and that even if some hapless SCO, Caldera or IBM idiot inserted code into Linux, that code can be quickly removed and replaced and a new kernel distributed to people using Linux.

    You and I also know that it is much more likely that code made its way from Linux into SCO, or from BSD into both, and that SCO's "side-by-side code" demonstration technique doesn't hold up to solid reasoning.

    However, very few people in business are going to understand this. Management are scared idiots, American management doubly so. They're going to stay away from Linux in droves and are already feeling personally betrayed by the people who make Linux, just on the strength of the FUD and accusations. They're already at home telling the wife how big a mistake Linux was and how they should have listened to the doubters.

    It's natural for them to take this view so easily because they've been conditioned all their lives to believe that "there's no such thing as a free lunch" and "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" and after years of business training they're suspect of anything (even family matters) that don't emphasize the "bottom line" above all else. They were very reluctant to consider Linux in the first instance for these reasons and it took years of badgering on technical grounds and tempting on cost grounds from technical underlings to stop them from seeing Linux as some kind of a scam in the first place.

    The courts in the US, unfortunately, have the same view. If it's corporation versus non-corporation, the corporation will always get the benefit of the doubt. The burden of proof will always be on the non-corporation, regardless of what the "law" may say, and in many cases, it's impossible for the non-coproration to win a case; the court will simply rule for the corporation even if it's patently obvious that the law doesn't support such a ruling. They'll do it with a backhanded wink and a nod and the belief that to hurt business and "the economy" is far worse that to hurt any non-business entity or group of individuals.

    For these reasons, Linux in the US will likely suffer horribly over the next few months or perhaps even several years. In fact, it's doubtful that Linux will ever recover the "inevitable force" swagger that it has had over the last few months in that country. Instead, Linux will continue to grow across the rest of the world and the US will lose yet another technical and cultural advantage in the interests of supporting business above all else.

    Hmm, maybe it's not so much a prediction as a fear. But I can't help but think that SCO has turned a corner on this one, not in terms of their case from an honest perspective, but in terms of the effect they're having.
    • by jeffy124 ( 453342 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:47AM (#6142855) Homepage Journal
      However, very few people in business are going to understand this. Management are scared idiots, American management doubly so.

      You seem to have duped into a stereotypical line of thinking. Most people in business are very intelligent, yet your opinion is based on the anecdotes of a select few. Likewise for lawyers. Your opinion is based on anecdotes of a few. Most managers listen to their IT people and their lawyers do research when they dont understand something. This includes finding out things like the significance of 80 lines of code in relation to the rest of the product as a whole.

      Additionally, any lawyer for a company receiving one of SCO's letters saying that through their use of [some-non-SCO] Linux distro, they're violating some law and should cease usage. Any lawyer will interpret that as the equivalent of Ford telling GM car owners their cars are illegal, and they should buy Ford cars. (If you wanna know how hard it is to be a lawyer, try some sample LSAT questions.)

      If it's corporation versus non-corporation, the corporation will always get the benefit of the doubt.

      Not so. I dont where you got this opinion from. US Courts require evidence from the plaintiffs of a case, just as the defense has oppurtunity to refute and present counter evidence. I think you're basing your opinion on cases that get settled outside the courtroom, where the definition of the "law" can be easily ignored.

      Recall the case of Victorias Secret vs. the mom-and-pop Victors Little Secret. The case was trademark related, Victorias Secret claimed VLS was hurting their profits and sales by having a similar name. I dont know what the intermediate rulings in the case were, but each hearing VLS asked evidence be presented of actual harm. The case eventually got before the Supreme Court, who ruled that in trademark cases, the victim (ie, plaintiff) must show evidence of actual harm being done.
    • This is a lengthy prediction, and I'll probably get modded down for it,

      Nothing like a good bit of karma-martyring, eh?

      However, very few people in business are going to understand this. Management are scared idiots, American management doubly so. They're going to stay away from Linux in droves and are already feeling personally betrayed by the people who make Linux, just on the strength of the FUD and accusations. They're already at home telling the wife how big a mistake Linux was and how they should h
  • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:08AM (#6142622) Homepage Journal
    "SCO is not trying to destroy Linux," said [Laura] DiDio of the Yankee Group. "That's silly. This is about paying royalties."
    We don't want to destroy privacy; we just want to be able to track terrorists.

    We don't want to destroy fair use; we just want to make sure the artists get paid for their work.

    We don't want to destroy free software; we just want to be paid every time someone uses it.

    <sarcasm>Yeah, right.</sarcasm>
  • by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:12AM (#6142639) Homepage
    Two blocks of code looking identical is nothing new to me, a couple of years ago I had a couple of friends be accused of cheating in one of their programming classes. The source of this accusation was the teacher who thought one was copying from the other as almost each assignment theyâ(TM)d turn in were identical other then the names at the top.

    It wasnâ(TM)t until they put them in two different rooms and asked them to write the same thing that they found that these two had virtually identical ways of coding, not just the code itâ(TM)s self, but the variables uses, the code formatting and even the comments. Everyone was surprised, and eventually the accusation of cheating was dropped.

    The moral of this story is that two blocks of code can be identical, itâ(TM)s very rare, just remember the infinite monkey principal.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:07AM (#6142967) Homepage Journal
    But does 80 lines of code warrant holding the entire OS community for ransom? ( you know they would not stop with UNIX, and head to Microsoft next.. )

    80 lines will be easy to 'fix' for the future, they cant be magic code..

    But that wont stop them from asking for damages due to previous versions of violating software.

    I've always believed SCO had a case, or wouldn't claim it.. BUT it was totally irresponsible to act on the infraction in this manner. A polite letter of 'you have violated, here is what you need to fix' would have been proper. Its not like they have lost a dime over this.. really.

  • by Catiline ( 186878 ) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:17AM (#6143022) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I question the origins and heritage of those 80 lines. There are three ways that Linux and SCO UnixWare[1] software might contain identical code:
    1. Linux steals code from SCO. (This is what SCO is claiming -- theft of IP via IBM's developers.)
    2. Linux gives code to SCO. (In my mind a likely possibility, given that SCO-- once Caldera Linux-- sold a Linux distrobution.)
    3. Linux and SCO both borrow the same code from a third, public doman or BSD-style licensed source.

    Personally, I place the first option as the least possible for two reasons: first, that I doubt any decently-skilled programmer would believe that (improperly donated) proprientary code would remain undetected in a open source program. (The "many eyes" principle doesn't make just bugs shallow!) Secondly, SCO "damning evidence" chart of UNIX history [sco.com] shows two arrows going FROM Linux to UnixWare around August 2000 (on either side of UnixWare 7.1.1+LKP), one coming from the Linux 2.2 branch and the other from the Linux 2.4 branch. This chart also shows one (and only one) arrow leading into Linux ... from BSD 4.4 around the end of 1994 (Linux 1.1.52).

    I'm laughing my head of at this whole brouhaha. SCO can't keep their story straight (one day it's trade secrets, then copyright, then patents, then ...) nor can they even lie convincingly on their webpage. Somebody please start a class action lawsuit positing fraud against these folks.

    [1: Even without seeing an exact statement from SCO about what part of their proprietary code is in question, I know it must be in UnixWare and not OpenServer because they complain IBM violated their IP with Monterrey ... and the arrow on the history chart to Monterrey leads from UnixWare.]
  • by sbaker ( 47485 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:17AM (#6143024) Homepage
    If there are indeed 80 contiguous lines of near identical code with identical comments - then I think we have to accept that the UNIX and Linux code came from the same place. That's too much to have come about by chance or parallel evolution. However, that doesn't make it an open-and-shut case for SCO:

    1) Did the code indeed come from UNIX to Linux and not from some other common source such as BSD - or from Linux to UNIX. Given the lack of version control in early versions of UNIX, it's going to be hard to show *where* it came from.

    2) Where is this code? If it's in the heart of the kernel then that's one thing - but if it's in some obscure utility or in a device driver, then it's quite possible that hardly anyone is using this code anyway.

    3) You can bet that within an hour of SCO revealing the location of this code, there will be a replacement for it out there. So they'd only be able to claim royalties for past use...not off into the future.

    4) Novell claim to own the copyrights and patents to UNIX. If that's true - then who cares about SCO's claims? Now, if Novell were to sue - that would be a completely different matter.

    5) It's hard to see how SCO could claim to have been materially damaged by this. It's pretty darned obvious that if the Linux community had not had access to those 80 lines, we'd have written them ourselves...it's not like "Oh no, we don't know how to write that function - so we'll have to steal it from UNIX."
    Linux's and SCO's sales would not have been different in the slightest whether that code was copied or written from scratch.

    We *NEED* more facts. What file and what range of line numbers are we talking about here? Why are SCO keeping that so secret?

  • Damages vs. Claims (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:18AM (#6143036) Homepage Journal

    So far they are claiming that Linux sales are hurting SCO sales. That is where the inflated 1 Billion dollar suite originates from. Loss of sales, not just royalties.

    It would seem to me, they would have to demonstrate A LOT of code was stolen in critical areas to show the Linux kernel really couldn't do well without their code.

    Of course, that is of course determining this is their code to begin with. Then determining where the actual code came from.

    It isn't just about proving code was indeed stolen, its about proving enough code was stolen to really shake up SCO sales. Then how much sales is really attributed to performance. Microsoft has proven that making the sale isn't just about code worthiness. (Probably a bad example using a monopoly, but other companies make the sale without perfect software)

  • 80 lines lets see? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linuxislandsucks ( 461335 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:22AM (#6143070) Homepage Journal
    80 lines is less than what one thousandth of percent of any unix like kernel..

    sounds more liek SCO GFroup during the partnering with IBM on a project accidently copied their own code to Linux..:)

    What ever happen to McBride's claim of thousands of lines of code?
  • by Paul_murphy ( 570459 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @12:14PM (#6143433)

    As I point out in my Linuxworld.com article (the one the editors here have not slashdotted - I wonder if they don't like pro sco opinions?) the issue is whether or not IBM breached the terms of the contract under which they had access to the AT&T code. I believe they did and that SCO will have an easy time proving it - and in that context lets remember that 80 lines will more than suffice for this if, in fact, their provenance can be proven in court.

    On the other hand my belief is that this issue has little or nothing to do with Linux on any platform other than the IBM P, I, and Z series machines using the PowerPC architecture and thus the SMP and memory management code constributed to the AT&T code base by engineers from companies like Sun, NCR, and Motorola. Today's SuSe or Red Hat CVS may include these materials, but since they're only called with respect to compilation for IBM's non intel hardware, I predict a zero real impact on Linux.

    FUD, of course, is another matter and the more people focus on the negative consequences for Linux which would arise if a fundamentally mistaken interpretation of the whole mess were correct, the worse things will get for the Linux community. So lets not help that along by spreading mis-information and conjecture. The facts will sort themselves out reasonably soon - and if I'm right Linux will come out unscathed while, if I'm wrong, delaying the rush to judgement may still help clarify the real issues.

  • Found it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @12:39PM (#6143612)
    linux-2.5.69# wc -l ./include/net/bluetooth/sco.h
    81 ./include/net/bluetooth/sco.h
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @02:53PM (#6144495) Journal
    I managed to hack around and find a copy of the 80 same lines. They are not necessarily in order:

    } //end-if
    } // end-while
    } //end-if
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @02:58PM (#6144535) Homepage Journal
    This is an Open Letter to SCO.

    Dear SCO,

    The current debacle over who owns what in the SCO and Linux kernels is unacceptable to the Information Technology industry as a whole. The industry fares badly in times of uncertainty, and at present, the economy is offering more uncertainty than the industry can healthily support.

    I understand fully the rationale of not openly publishing the lines of code that are in question. However, given the claim that they are identical, the following method will allow SCO to demonstrate the legitamacy of its claims, without compromising on the security and integrity of its code base and Intellectual Property rights.

    I urge SCO to adopt either the four steps below, OR something that is similar, so that we can move beyond the fear, uncertainty and doubt, and into the realms of peacably resolving these issues in a way that benefits all parties concerned.

    As Professor Nash pointed out in his Nobel-prize winning paper on economics, competition functions best with cooperation. SCO and Linux are very different OS', with very different "ideal" markets. The overlap is small. Compete over the overlap, by all means. That is the idea of a free market. However, where no overlap exists, you risk expending resources on a sector you cannot gain.

    I therefore urge you to fight as hard as you can, where such a fight means something, but you know computer history well enough to know the fate of many companies who steered the course of pyrric victories. IBM and Apple both got burned badly from such policies, to the point where nobody could be sure of the future of either. Understand the economic and political implications of Professor Nash's work, before pursuing a policy that, historically, has proved treacherous to all sides concerned.

    As mentioned earlier, there are four simple steps SCO can do, which protect its Intellectual Property, yet prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt. These steps are as follows:

    • 1) Compile the Linux kernel and the SCO kernel under the same compiler, with the same options (in this case, you'd want maximum debug).
    • 2) Put these two binaries on a website, such that you can extract a given string of N bytes, starting at position P into the binaries.
    • 3) To avoid revealing this mysterious trade secret stuff, show the MD-5 and SHA-1 hashes of those strings. If they are, indeed, identical, then SCO may have a case.
    • 4) If SCO has found such alleged chunks, they can supply the relevent N and P values for the binaries, to prove their case. If they CANNOT publicly supply such N and P values, even with all of the protections I've outlined to secure the code from being examined, then their case is more likely based on examining common abstract data types, common implementation techniques, or the implementation of a unique solution to a given specific problem.

    The point of the above "proof" is that SCO -could- win in the public opinion arena, by using a method of this kind, IF it has a case.

    If there are lots of (N, P) clusters, close together (ie: evidence of a similar function, using identical operations in an identical way, with identical symbol names, etc), then the Linux and IBM crowds would probably respect that and work to resolve this issue peacably, recognising that code from SCO does indeed appear to be in there.

    If, however, you have very scattered (N, P) blocks, with a very random distribution, you're much more likely to be looking at simple reuse of a common ADT, or the solving of specific problems with a unique implementable solution. When something is absolutely unique - there is only one algorithm, or block of code which can perform the task - then it is restraint of trade to attempt to own that unique method. Patents, etc, rely on the premise that alternatives, and thus competition, exist, and that you are merely protecting YOUR alternative, not denying others the right to compete.

    (This is one reason I think the patent system is seriously messed up. The case for a patent should be proven prior to patenting, as not all competitors are in a position to launch a serious challange to the lawfulness - either in letter or in spirit - of the patent.)

  • Redhat, Mandrake, Debian et al. have legal teams, I believe.

    GNU, and FSF, should care what is going on with this case.

    OSI has something to say too.

    In reaction to posts like this one [slashdot.org] linux distributors should sue SCO, asking for the following:
    A. Injunction against scaring potential and existing customers away from linux, using threatening letters.
    B. Disclosure of offending lines of code.
    C. Bar SCO from legally threatening ANY Linux user under the grounds of copyright infringment, since SCO has already released all the code under the GPL (and continues to do so, by disseminating linux-kernel-source from their website).

    It seems to me that this should be a simple process. Indeed, if I wasn't dead broke, I might decide to file a case like this myself.

    In addition, why not fork SCO's Caldera kernel-> Isn't their custom kernel usuable as 'linux'? Just take their kernel, strip out the SCO bits, add our own, and call in the SCO-lawsuit-protected kernel--after all, you got it from SCO, and they have agreed not to prosecute people using their code.

    Infact, this last option seems to be an ace in the hole for us. Unless I'm wrong, in which case someone should explain why to me.
  • by LuiWoh ( 669674 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @04:25PM (#6145025)
    Over the years I have gone back and forth. Running Linux (RedHat, Slackware, Debian) and Windows (95,98 XP Pro) Sometimes a dual boot system, other times just Windows, other times just Linux. I, like the rest of you, have read and followed the SCO situation and today... Yes today... decided I will never use a proprietary OS again. This case is so stupid to me it is amazing. How about as a society we move forward instead of backwards? It is just about money, isn't it? Free as in Beer or Free as in cash? I, today am choosing Free. You decide what one.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!