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GNU is Not Unix Caldera

FSF Statement on SCO vs. IBM 413

tomdp writes "Eben Moglen, Law professor and general counsel for the Free Software Foundation, has written a statement about SCO's lawsuit against IBM."
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FSF Statement on SCO vs. IBM

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:44PM (#6320051)
    Am I the only one that read the first line as "The lawsuit brought by the Satan Cruz Operation ..." ?
    • ow, my side.
    • by Soko ( 17987 )
      Heh - good one Mr. AC!

      The first thing that came to my head reading the parent was Dana Carvey's ChruchLady skit about Santa Claus - where she re-arranges the leters in Santa to spell *thunderous voice* SATAN!!!

      "Well, idn't that special!!!"

      Soko
    • Re:First line... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Monkey-Man2000 ( 603495 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:22PM (#6320271)
      The interesting thing is that they aren't really the Santa Cruz Operation but The SCO Group [sco.com].
    • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphaniNO@SPAMdal.net> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @02:28PM (#6320614)
      I was accually expecting to open the statement to see nicely centered black-on-white text stating "HAHAHAHA".

  • Thank you FSF (Score:4, Informative)

    by krb ( 15012 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:46PM (#6320060) Homepage
    nice to see such a clear, concise and complete dismissal of SCO's FUD. They kept it professional and straightforward, and with any luck, this'll defuse some of the tension surronding the entire situation.

    Kudos FSF and Eben Moglen
    • I agree. This was a quality article. Much moreso than the interview that came out of FSF earlier in the week. He hit the points and did a pretty good job of explaining it. His explanation of why GNUs not "the Linux Kernel" and the whole seperation of terms fit into the points he subsequently made. So it didnt sound like beating a dead horse.

      I think this will certainly put to rest any out there nervous about this case. Well, except IBM.
    • I'd throw in accusations that SCO is composed of communist vampires or that SCO's UNIX is just VMS with a new shell.

      Just so you guys know, SCO does have a secret biochemistry lab working on a coffee-eradicating bacteria.
    • by firewrought ( 36952 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:32PM (#6320329)
      nice to see such a clear, concise and complete dismissal of SCO

      Yeah... but did anyone get the sense that Stallman read the draft essay and had Eben inject that paragraph about calling it 'GNU/Linux' instead of just 'Linux'?

      Headline: Microsoft Bankrupt, Linux Rules the World
      Stallman: Ahh!!! It's GNU/Linux, damnit.

      Headline: Linux Marketshare 60%, Microsoft GPL's Windows
      Stallman: Noooo... it's 'GNU/Linux'... Linux is only a kernel!

      Headline: Extraterrestials Obliterate Eastern Seaboard
      Stallman: 'GNU/Linux' everyone, 'GNU/Linux'...

      • Re:Thank you FSF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dwonis ( 52652 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:51PM (#6320441)
        Shut up. You're no better than Stallman, by your own measure:

        Headline: Microsoft Bankrupt, Linux Rules the World
        Stallman: ...GNU/Linux...
        You: Wah! Stallman is pushing his "GNU/Linux" agenda!

        Headline: Linux Marketshare 60%, Microsoft GPL's Windows
        Stallman: ...GNU/Linux...
        You: Wah! Stallman wants to take over the world!

        Headline: Extraterrestials Obliterate Eastern Seaboard
        Stallman: ...GNU/Linux...
        You: Wah! Stallman said that phrase again!

      • Re:Thank you FSF (Score:3, Insightful)

        by thisgooroo ( 685374 )
        you might think about stallman's stance whatever you want, but in this situation clarifying a few things (like linux is the kernel of the gnu system) goes a long way combatting sco'd fud
    • Re:Thank you FSF (Score:3, Insightful)

      by keirre23hu ( 638913 )
      I agree.. but I am starting to question the point of every person under the sun making statements about the validity of the lawsuit, before the case actually begins. I guess some people need to be constantly reminded about how non-sensical (is that a word?) the whole thing is. I think for all intents and purposes, at least in the Slashdot community, most people realize what is really going on... Hopefully the stream of people exposing the deception in SCO's case, and SCO's history (particularly Mr. McBrid
      • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @03:06PM (#6320777)
        It's not so much about the merits of the lawsuit itself, but about the public opinion statements SCO has been making, trying to affect the free software world in a really negative way, based on vague statement sabout the ramifications of this lawsuit.

        As everyone knows, they went from "Trade secret" to "license violation" to "copyright violation" to alleging "patent" almost.

        They went from talking about their secrets making it into linux, to pointing out it was actually code that was NOT their secret, but that they technically may have an exclusive license to, due to some wording in IBM's Unix license.

        They are saying many confusing things, and backing it up with little.

        Sco -vs- IBM is between SCO and IBM. Hopefully the rest of the world is smart enough to realize that the free software world is more than happy to obey the law, if only someone would tell them what they are doing wrong.

        So it's good for people, lawyers, and organisations to put forward their own researched opinions as to what the ramifications of SCO's actions are, because the public needs both sides.
    • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:55PM (#6320454)
      They kept it professional and straight forward...

      No place for that on Slashdot.

      BTW, did you know that Daryl McBride is, in fact, the goatse.cx man?
      (you just need to view him from the 'right' angle)

  • by gotr00t ( 563828 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:46PM (#6320061) Journal
    One would think that FSF would jump at the opportunity to assert that indeed, Linux is NOT GNU/Linux, and should not be confused with it. Their abstnance from giving a clear statement about this kind of thing really has let the hype go downhill.

    Moreover, is it just me, or has the case really gone from something that is targeted at Linux (kernel) that many people worry about into just an internal dispute between IBM and SCO that not many really worry about anymore? I woudn't be suprised if the latter was true.

    • by The Monster ( 227884 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:57PM (#6320118) Homepage
      One would think that FSF would jump at the opportunity
      (Good) lawyers don't JUMP at anything they don't have to jump at. They act more like snipers, studying their target(s) carefully, finding the best angle to attack from, and then fire a single shot designed to do the most damage.

      Most of what's come out of SCO is so self-contradictory that the only intelligent response is "What the hell are you saying?" Until they can nail down exactly what they're complaining about, there's nothing else to do but demand that they give the particulars.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        it goes more like,
        SCO: All your base are belong to us.

        SCO: You are on the way to destruction.
        Slashdot: What you say !!
        SCO: You have no chance to survive make your time.
      • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:09PM (#6320193)
        ...lawyers don't JUMP at anything they don't have to jump at. They act more like snipers...

        I picture an IBM lawyer taking out the SCO board:

        *BANG*, Head Shot!
        *BANG*, Double Kill!
        *BANG*, Multi Kill!
        *BANG*, Ultra Kill!
        *BANG*, Monster Kill!

      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:14PM (#6320230) Homepage
        (Good) lawyers don't JUMP at anything they don't have to jump at. They act more like snipers, studying their target(s) carefully, finding the best angle to attack from, and then fire a single shot designed to do the most damage

        In this case the FSF lawyer seems to be taking the best approach for damage limitation. Ask SCO for specific details of the parts of Linux they claim are infringing.

        Courts tend to try to act in a reasonable way. The two big issues for a copyright lawsuit are financial losses and intention. It is unlikely that the courts are going to impose substantial damages for unintentional infringement if there is no financial loss for the copyright holder or gain for the alleged infringer.

        What the FSF is doing here is taking the moral high ground. Clearly there is no way anyone can prove the provenance of every line of code in a million lines of source. But they can demonstrate that they are not willfully infringing.

        SCO knows that there is no chance of significant damages if the alleged infringing code is replaced before the case comes to trial. That is the reason they are trying to avoid stating their claim. It is an utterly futile legal strategy, in the first place the court is not going to set a trial date before SCO specifies the lines of code at issue. Secondly the fact SCO is trying to prevent linux removing the alleged infringing code is likely to be taken into account by the court.

        • SCO knows that there is no chance of significant damages if the alleged infringing code is replaced before the case comes to trial.

          That's bullshit, go ahead and ask any IP lawyer. Just because the infringing code is removed doesn't negate the fact that the infringement occured, and it would have absolutely no negative effect on any damages awarded.

          As a strategy it's completely braindead. Not only would pointing out the infringing code have no effect on any legitimate claims they have against IBM, but fai
          • That's bullshit, go ahead and ask any IP lawyer. Just because the infringing code is removed doesn't negate the fact that the infringement occured, and it would have absolutely no negative effect on any damages awarded.

            Removing the alleged infringing code does not eliminate the infringement but it does significantly limit the damages.

            If the infringement is deemed to be willful the plaintif is entitled to statutory damages irrespective of any actual damage that occurs and punitive trebled damages.

            If th

  • A Legal Virus... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rdewald ( 229443 ) * <rdewald@gmailMONET.com minus painter> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:48PM (#6320067) Homepage Journal
    This article frames the issues in a way that cause me to consider that this lawsuit is a legal metaphor for a computer virus. Let me explain what I mean.

    This article seems to confirm my suspicion that this lawsuit is a business strategy rather than a principled legal action. If it is also true they they themselves distributed the code under the GPL for which they now seek copyright protection, then maybe the GPL is really the target. Perhaps their lawyers believe that if they can make an argument that invalidates the GPL then they can indeed make a claim against IBM.

    But, it is important to note that the exploit here would be of the copyright laws rather as a remedy for some improper action by IBM.

    In this sense, the lawsuit is the legal equivalent of a virus. It is seeking to exploit a weakness in the code . Rather than doing something just and benevolent (as lawsuits are intended), this suit seems to seek to exploit a weakness for selfish gain or malevolent satisfaction.

    Beyond that, the lack of distinction between GNU and Linux in their pleadings as described in the EFF statement is just lame on SCO's part. Lord knows, both Mr. Stallman and Mr. Raymond have done what they could to ring that bell. Some SCO investigator should have picked up on that.
    • by The_Dougster ( 308194 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:55PM (#6320107) Homepage
      Or, and this is pretty far-fetched, perhaps they covet the Linux kernel and GNU software. Their conjecture is, if they can win, maybe they can take ownership of GNU/Linux and hijack the whole deal. They realize that they can't make their OS better, so they are now attempting to steal ours.
      • No, not really.

        1) They won't ever be able to take control o fthe Linux kernel. That their code was used in it does not give them any legal right to the other code in it. And, no, they really aren't that stupid.

        2) The GPL doesn't come into this case. It's a case about contract violations alleged against IBM. IBM allegedly broke their contractual limits on disclosing SCO code. The contract violations are much more damaging than any IP violations, so IP ownership just doesn't come into it in this case. I

    • Re:A Legal Virus... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda&etoyoc,com> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:55PM (#6320109) Homepage Journal
      I wouldn't sit up nights wondering what will happen if SCO should win. Frankly the law is going to take one look at the GPL, one look at the fact that SCO distributed this code under the GPL first as Caldera, and then as SCO, and throw the case out.

      Where life is going to get interesting is who is going to be suing SCO for damages. They have made very public and very damaging accusations against just about everyone. Someone is going to sue for defamation, and probably win.

      • Someone is going to sue for defamation, and probably win

        I do not disagree with you, but when will they finally be forced to try to produce a real case? Based on what I have seen of US litigation in the past, is there not every prospect of years of unsubstantiated FUD before they ever have to produce something for a court to make a decision about?

      • This really has nothing to do with the particulars of the SCO v. IBM suit, since it is based purely on contract violations alleged against IBM and no intellectual property issues at all. The GPL simply doesn't come into it in this case.

        It would apply, however, if they start suing Linux distributors or users. But that isn't really on the horizon.

    • by Silent_E ( 592458 ) <[emrigsby] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:07PM (#6320177) Journal
      This article seems to confirm my suspicion that this lawsuit is a business strategy rather than a principled legal action. If it is also true they they themselves distributed the code under the GPL for which they now seek copyright protection, then maybe the GPL is really the target. Perhaps their lawyers believe that if they can make an argument that invalidates the GPL then they can indeed make a claim against IBM

      Law suits imho (I teach media law) are far more often strategies than principled legal action. Sometimes the strategy is principled, and sometimes not. Many famous law decisions by the US Supreme Court were "set up" by one or even both parties to render a decision. So, in U.S. v. Haggerty (the federal flag burning case) someone deliberately burned a flag during a protest in order to bring the law suit. In another example, corporations are required by law to "defend" their trademarks, or risk them entering the public domain, so not that long ago Intel began to demand that a non-profit group that teaches yoga to young people in juvanile detention called "Yoga Inside" change their name because it violated the trademark "Intel Inside." Sometimes principles come out of law decisions, but lawsuits are strategies. My exmaples are two of the less henious strategies out there, but the law is a self-replicating virus even when its biproducts are principled.
      • Law suits imho (I teach media law) are far more often strategies than principled legal action. Sometimes the strategy is principled, and sometimes not.

        You are correct. I think I might have not chosen the best word. I was referring to principle with a lower case p, as in "we own the code." I don't see how they can even believe that in this case.

        not that long ago Intel began to demand that a non-profit group that teaches yoga to young people in juvanile detention called "Yoga Inside" change their n

    • Perhaps their lawyers believe that if they can make an argument that invalidates the GPL then they can indeed make a claim against IBM.

      Voiding the GPL would be mostly shooting themselves in the foot. The GPl is mostly a promise by the owner of the software in question that they will not sue you for copyright violation if you agree to -- and follow certain principles

      If SCO were to step in front of the court and claim that they believed that the GPL was void. They would be arguing that they have been kn

    • "This article seems to confirm my suspicion that this lawsuit is a business strategy rather than a principled legal action."

      Wow, this is a surprise - we're talking about a corporation here, not a philanthropist. This is like saying 'the way this shark is circling around me confirms my suspicion that it wants to eat me and not be my friend.'

      Corporation's motivations and ethical motivations are completely orthogonal to one another. In some cases, what's best for the company (& shareholders) is ethical
  • Mmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tancred ( 3904 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:48PM (#6320068)
    Just as I can't function without my first cup of coffee in the morning, I can't get my moral outrage going without the first SCO story of the morning. What are we going to do when the case is thrown out? I guess there's always MS.
    • Actually, it was funny to see an advertisement for MS on here. /. doesn't believe in the way MS does buisiness and they are all for BOYCOTT THE MAN, but then they turn around and advertise for him! They would probably have ads for SCO too if SCO still had an actual product anymore.

      That aside, they are at least keeping people posted on what is going on with the SCO situation, even if it is getting a bit redundant, this behavior by SCO is a serious problem for the open source community and to innovation in
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:52PM (#6320091)
    To me the important point of that statement was the focus on the trade secret litigation. There is nothing about Unix these days that could be considered secret. Its doubly certain that there is no way sco could assert that it met the trade secret requirements, coke theyr'e not.

    Just a refresher for trade secret protection to apply, everyone who comes into contact with the information, has to agree to a NDA, has to be informed that the information is trade secret, and has to be informed that the company will take action against them if they reveal it. The company further has to have regular trade secret audits to review procedures and make certain that the information isn't being improperly divulged.

    Take an operating systems course in college ? Look at anything from GNU ? SCO going after IBM for trade secret infringement is laughable. Whats even funnier is they hired a lawyer who couldnt even get a decent judgement against microsoft for anticompetetive practices, after the introduced obviously fabricated evidence into court
  • Instead of arguing about SCO boing right or wrong, good or bad, what we should be arguing is wether IP is morally acceptable to begin with. When we don't do that, we are just arguing on their terms, jumping thru their hoops, playing the game by their rules. It is a sure path to disapointment.
    • by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda&etoyoc,com> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:10PM (#6320204) Homepage Journal
      I'm seeing a vendor cart at the Bazaar, SCO - Santa Cruz Oxygen.

      They have an compressor sucking the surrounding air, bottling it in tanks, and being sold for $1000/liter. The bottle comes with a free mask, what a deal!

      When no one buys this SCOair, they call the constables over to complain about all the nose pirates. They insist that the elephant (IBM) next door it sucking all the air with his trunk and giving it to everyone.

      Someone points out that just last week these same folks had tried a similar scheme with bottled water. After an hour of SCO's screaming the authorities cart the SCOair people away for disturbing the peace.

  • by narfbot ( 515956 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:53PM (#6320098)
    Quote from FSF Statement:
    "Moreover, there are straightforward legal reasons why SCO's assertions concerning claims against the kernel or other free software are likely to fail. As to its trade secret claims, which are the only claims actually made in the lawsuit against IBM, there remains the simple fact that SCO has for years distributed copies of the kernel, Linux, as part of GNU/Linux free software systems. Those systems were distributed by SCO in full compliance with GPL, and therefore included complete source code. So SCO itself has continuously published, as part of its regular business, the material which it claims includes its trade secrets. There is simply no legal basis on which SCO can claim trade secret liability in others for material it widely and commercially published itself under a license that specifically permitted unrestricted copying and distribution."

    So instead of claiming they inadvertantly GPLed it, we should rather say, they only made it worse by distributing it themselves, and cannot claim any liability from other people doing the same.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:54PM (#6320103)
    SpongeBob: Hey Patrick, what am I?
    SpongeBob lays down and acts dead.
    Patrick: Uhh, you're dead.
    SpongeBob: No Patrick, I'm SCO!
    Patrick: What's the difference? Ha ha ha
    SpongeBob: Ha ha ha ha.
  • Operating System? (Score:2, Informative)

    by RVT ( 13770 )
    I have been taught that the OS is the kernel, not the collection of programs running under it.
    Now that the FSF claims the OS to be the kernel plus the GNU utils, do we have to change the definition? Is CS a democratic science ruled by majority? I know, I am picking nits. I have a whole basket full.
    • Hey, I'm still trying to get my users to not refer to the "Computer" as the CPU or the Hard Drive.

      Say, what is the proper term for the whole computer, sans screen and peripherals? CPU really means the processor chip. I've always like "Computer". Workstation sounds impressive, but it usually refers to the whole setup (plus computer companies are reserving the word for their brawnier offerings.)

      • Say, what is the proper term for the whole computer, sans screen and peripherals? CPU really means the processor chip. I've always like "Computer". Workstation sounds impressive, but it usually refers to the whole setup (plus computer companies are reserving the word for their brawnier offerings.)

        I think the word you are looking for is `box'.

  • by greppling ( 601175 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:00PM (#6320135)
    ...by continually continueing to spread any news having anything to do with this case? After all, the strategy of SCO seems to create as many news as possible to transmit their FUD.

    Once it stopped appearing daily on all the news sites around, everything would calm down a bit, and the case would generally be seen as a private law suit about trade secrets between two companies having a long history of cross-licensing agreements, i.e. nothing that extraordinary.

    But I see that at least some news sites seem to have started understanding this already:

    We unsuccessfully tried to ignore the SCO v. IBM fracas, mostly because ... [linuxjournal.com]

    and

    We know just how you feel [lwn.net] (lwn.net commenting on the above quote from Linux journal...)

  • IANAL , etc. .It is very very important for FSF to seperate (espicialy right now) the Gnu tools from the linux kernel .Sco is claiming that linux as a whole violates its IP (even if it does which is bloody unlikely) it is a stratigically sound move to say that the Gnu tools are seperate so they cant sue the FSF for violating their IP . Of course knowing SCO they would try anywyas :-)
  • by trance9 ( 10504 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:07PM (#6320178) Homepage Journal

    Someone needs to draw the media's attention to this point: SCO itself has protected the Linux kernel againt any claim of infringement by SCO. Those 1500 companies SCO mailed letters to can rest assured that they have nothing to fear--SCO itself has released the kernel under the GPL and therefore SCO has given everyone in the world a license to use it.

    They may have a case against IBM, but SCO itself has given a license to everyone else.

    This needs to get more play in the press, and I think it's the most important point in the article.
    • Actually, if they lose on those grounds, then this could do a lot more damage than if they win. Imagine the following scenario:
      1. I create a product, and bundle GPL project A with it.
      2. Someone steals a copy of my proprietary code, and starts slowly leaking it into the GPL project A.
      3. I don't have time to review the code of A, but keep bundling it with my product because it is of use to my customers.
      4. I realise that someone has stolen my code and embedded it into project A. As a result of this, my product is no
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:07PM (#6320179)
    The paragraph containing "As to its trade secret claims, which are the only claims actually made in the lawsuit against IBM, there remains the simple fact that SCO has for years distributed copies of the kernel, Linux, as part of GNU/Linux free software systems." concerns me.

    What is omitted from this discussion, and what Eben certainly must already know, is that if SCO redistributes in good faith Free products that it receives from the community, then the illegal inclusion by a third party of material copyrighted by SCO does not in any way lessen SCO's claim to that copyright.

    It's as if you sold your house "as is", and while you were in the office signing over title someone stole your car and parked it in your garage.

    What's pretty obvious is that Open Source Software functions like an online magazine or bulletin board, to which malicious or incompetent users may illegally post copyrighted material. Once the violation is identified, the offending content is removed. The legal standing of companies reselling the content would be the subject of this suit.

    Suppose O'Reilly published a "Best of /.", and after publication it was discovered that a certain eloquent essay was completely plagiarized. What happens?
    • by MeanMF ( 631837 ) * on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:46PM (#6320405) Homepage
      What is omitted from this discussion, and what Eben certainly must already know, is that if SCO redistributes in good faith Free products that it receives from the community, then the illegal inclusion by a third party of material copyrighted by SCO does not in any way lessen SCO's claim to that copyright.

      That depends on whether the court holds that SCO should have been more diligent in reviewing the source code before they released their version of Linux. If they had done a thorough review they would certainly have found the offending code This could be a lose-lose situation for Open Source.. If the court finds that SCO was not responsible for reviewing the code, then the copyright infringement case against the authors of Linux can go forward. If they find that SCO was responsible and that the code is now GPL, it would mean that anybody who publishes open source software is responsible for its content, whether they wrote the code or not. I have no idea which way the courts will come down on this issue, but it could definitely complicate publishing open source software.

      What's pretty obvious is that Open Source Software functions like an online magazine or bulletin board, to which malicious or incompetent users may illegally post copyrighted material.

      This argument didn't help Napster. There's a distinction in the law where financial incentive is concerned. Bulletin board operators don't gain anything by copyrighted material being posted on their systems (unless they do it themselves to attract users). Software vendors do gain an advantage by using code from other software since they save the cost of writing the code themselves.
    • What is omitted from this discussion, and what Eben certainly must already know, is that if SCO redistributes in good faith Free products that it receives from the community, then the illegal inclusion by a third party of material copyrighted by SCO does not in any way lessen SCO's claim to that copyright.

      But they can't make that argument in court and expect it not to be shot down in flames. By their own admission, they continued selling the supposedly infringing product, under the GNU license, for many m

  • In summary (Score:2, Troll)

    by DrXym ( 126579 )
    If Linux were called GNU/Linux all this confusion would have been avoided.


    Yeah right.

  • About trying to pass a camel through the eye of a needle. From a legal perspective, this is what SCO has been trying to accomplish.
  • I'm still looking for someone to start a class-action libel suit against SCO....
  • by minkwe ( 222331 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:19PM (#6320258) Journal
    If SCO wins, which they won't, the best judgement they could ever get would be to remove said code from Linux.

    If they claim that they did not know that their code was in it, then linux users and other Linux distributors can not be bothered because they too did not know it was SCO's code. The law cannot be more forgiving of SCO for its negligence than to the Linux users/distributors.

    SCO should forget about getting anything out lincensing from Linux ever.

    The case between SCO and IBM now has boiled down to a contract dispute, which has to do with interpretation of the meaning of derivative works. In any case SCO is doomed because they inherited the documents and can not claim to interpret what it was intended to mean. Since SCO did not draft those documents, expert witnesses from AT&T which drafted those contracts will clearify what they meant by derivative works and SCO would be screwed.

  • SCO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:21PM (#6320264) Homepage
    The blitz of press about SCO leaves one very confused about all of this. This press release doens't seem to contain a whole lot that is new, and unfortunately does little to resolve any of the significant issues.

    The IBM vs. SCO dispute appears to be something that Linux itself is not involved in except as a matter of evidence of violation of contract, unless I misunderstand what the initial lawsuit was about. (IANAL.) IBM does not have any control over the Linux kernel.

    The involvement of free software, and I think the reason many of us are so up in arms, is certain statements SCO has made which seem to indicate it thinks a) it can treat Linux, and all the contributions made to Linux by people everywhere, as SCO property and b) that any Unix like system, of any type, also owes SCO for IP use. Those are the really dangerous thoughts, because a lot of us don't trust the court system to acknowledge common sense. The whole IBM thing is just a prelude as far as Linux is concerned - contract disputes between IBM and SCO are secondary. It's whether SCO thinks they can go after Linux that is the real issue. And the reason for the sound and fury is they seem to think they can, or at least they say that. Not to mention their statements that they don't believe the Linux kernel could be enterprise ready so quickly (whatever that means) without commercial software being included. How do they know that? The attitude of "well, we know you aren't capable of creating this, so if you have it it must be from us" is extremely insulting and arrogant. No one has ever put a bounds on what the free software community can achieve with any success. It's just too diverse.

    The nightmare scenario seems to be this: A US Court grants SCO the right to all Linux IP, based on some bizarre reading of derivative work definitons. Consequently, if people in the US want to use Linux they now have to license it from SCO, despite the fact that SCO did not create most of the code in Linux. Our efforts will have essentially been stolen out from under us - most developers for Linux have worked in good faith to create a totally free system. If SCO is allowed to destroy that, the result is many years of work down the drain, because free software and open source both would sooner abandon Linux than pay SCO anything. Indeed, if SCO succeeds in such an attempt, Linux will become non-free. The effort will have to be recreated elsewhere, and if SCO's claims to all Unix like operating systems holds up it will have to be on something completely new. Plan9 perhaps, or Hurd, or maybe something totally new. But in any case, years gone.

    The mistake SCO seems to be making is that they can grab Linux and make people pay for it. That is, of course, utter nonsense. People would sooner abandon it and start over. Linux is not special because of its technology. It is the freedom of Linux that makes it a powerful force in the software world. The technology is secondary. SCO controlling the technology would, by definition, destroy that which makes Linux worthwhile. We would be pissed as heck if they somehow managed it, but maybe just for that reason the rise of a new system without any IP ties would probably be all the faster. SCO is like the child who wants to hold a snowflake in their hand - the mere act of grabbing it destroys it.

    What their motivations might be, there has been a lot of speculation. The obvious possibilities have already been mentioned time and again. SCO will not succeed if their goal is to make money from controlling open source software, because any software they control is not, by definition, open source. We will go elsewhere.

    Do I think it will come to that? No. But the law is a strange animal, and one is never 100% sure what will happen. So the sooner this is over with, the happier we will all be. And whatever happens, SCO can forget about ever being a viable commercial business again. I would not do business with any company who uses methods such as those I have seen from them.
    • Re:SCO (Score:4, Insightful)

      by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @04:27PM (#6321196)
      "The nightmare scenario seems to be this: A US Court grants SCO the right to all Linux IP, based on some bizarre reading of derivative work definitons."

      I think we can all be fairly sure it won't come to that. No rational reading of derivative work would grant the entirety of GNU/Linux to SCO.

      1) SCO would never have any argument for ownership of the "GNU" part of GNU/Linux.

      2) Any current hardware support by the Linux kernel, to name just one important feature, would have no conceivable connection to SCO's code and thus would not be a derivative work.

      3) Depending on which code is copied, SCO would have, tops, rights to a small amount of code that interacts with it, but not the entire kernel.

      No offense intended, but this is just fearmongering. Popular misconceptions:

      "SCO is after the GPL!" Wrong. SCO is bringing a suit based on alleged contract violations by IBM; IP ownership and the GPL don't come into it.

      "SCO is after ownership of Linux!" SCO would not be able to gain ownership of Linux as a whole; but rather damages from IBM for disclosure of SCO code. Perfectly fair, in my opinion, if IBM really did disclose SCO code in violations of IBM's contract.

      "SCO is just trying to be bought out by IBM." I don't know where this one comes from, but why would IBM buy SCO? Especially after such an antagonistic move like this?

      "SCO wants to make all Linux users pay through the nose." How would SCO get back payments from home users of Linux for a contract violation by IBM? The culpability stops with IBM (or perhaps Linux distributors); the letters SCO sent out were a calculated ploy to make "true" Unix look more appealing for corporate users than Linux. SCO doesn't give a shit what we Slashdot users run on our own PCs; it's not like we'd all be buying SCO Unix instead.

      Slashdot readers like to complain about SCO "FUD", but they are easily the biggest victims of it.

  • This came out the other day.

    In any case yes Linux = kernel, GNU is all the rest.

    SCO is trying to taint the whole GNU movement. I do have to wonder what the FSF's status is on how the HURD is coming along. I have been to the site and saw some info on downloading the GNU/hurd, but was not sure what to install or how. Their docs seemed lacking.

    I am getting tired of SCO and all their FUD spreadding and the complete lack of willingness to show what code is really tainted. It would make more sense to show

  • Wondering... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:28PM (#6320306) Homepage
    Anybody wondering what the "unfair compeition" part of the whole SCO lawsuit might entail? IANAL, of course, but I sort of wonder what would be considered unfair. Releasing secrets and code to Linux that belong to SCO would seem to be different offenses - would they qualify as unfair competition too, or might that be refering to creating a free system to do what SCO can do, and more? Would that be ruled unfair?

    I've often wondered if someone wouldn't sue open source software projects based on the argument it isn't fair that they have to compete against a free product, and asking that no one be allowed to distribute free software on the grounds it is unfair competition. Utter nonsense, of course, but the "I have a right to make a profit" thinking in the US is so strong sometimes it makes me wonder if someday we will see it.
  • by SlashdotLemming ( 640272 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:35PM (#6320339)
    Stories to be posted daily:
    1) Microsoft Security Hole
    2) SCO story 1
    3) SCO story 2
    3) Web Development with PHP and/or Perl book review
    4) Physics story that no-one understands but everyone pretends to
    5) New Mozilla build
    6) Repost of one of the above
  • The stance of RMS and the FSF is irrelevant.
    When SCO/IBM is talking about Linux in this case, they're talking about the kernel and nothing else, which is rather obvious from the few details that have been given.

    The FSF own no kernel copyrights as far as I know, they're just using this stuff to trumpet out RMSs tired old message of "it's GNU/Linux not Linux".

    Sometimes I feel it'd be worth porting over the BSD runtime environment just to stop having to hear these sour grapes..

  • SCO's lawsuit asserts that IBM has breached contractual obligations between the two companies, and also that IBM has incorporated trade secret information concerning the design of the UNIX operating system into what SCO calls generally ``Linux.'' This latter claim has recently been expanded in extra-judicial statements by SCO employees and officers to include suggestions that ``Linux'' includes material copied from UNIX in violation of SCO's copyrights. An allegation to this effect was contained in letters
  • From the LaTeX-like quotes I guessed the article was written by an Emacs fanatic (hey, I'm an Emacs fanatic myself). I examined the source and bingo!, two spaces after each dot.

    More interesting was the lack of closing paragraph tags and weird attribute style. Examining the headers I found the doctype:

    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">

    Man, someone's still writing HTML 2.0!

  • by jg21 ( 677801 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @02:04PM (#6320508)
    Summarizing what it terms Novell's "Linux ambitions," Maureen O'Gara's LinuxGram [sys-con.com] is reporting today that Novell is not only porting its services - including the services stack in the future NetWare 7 - to Linux and launching Novell Nterprise Linux Services to run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server from later this year, but that it has also - as the company that sold Unix to SCO's predecessor - been tipped off by one of the folks who examined the source code that the SCO Group claims Linux copied from SVR4...and been able to trace the code back to a pre-SVR4 version of BSD.

    "As a result, Novell is supposedly trying to figure out how to lob another discrediting hand grenade at SCO and claim that the code SCO is basing its $3 billion contentions on is actually in the public domain," LinuxGram says.

  • by oaf357 ( 661305 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @02:58PM (#6320737) Homepage Journal
    Truly enlightening statement. This should be handed out to everyone on the planet.

    There is a general idea that some people have that Linux is THE operating system. The fact of the matter is that Linux is just the kernel. Everything else (for the most part) isn't Linux. People need to be educated on that fact.

    My favorite line from the statement:

    "... SCO's public statements are at best misleading and irresponsible."

    Duh! But not everyone understands, so thanks for saying that.

  • The people who still insist on calling the entire OS "Linux" are, imo, fanatics.

    This is a demonstratable case of where harm is being done to the entire FS and OSS community because of the confusion between Linux the kernel and the GNU/Linux OS, which is at the core of what every distributor (like RedHat, Suse, Gentoo, Debian, etc) distributes as a distribution.

    The only reason SCO is able to exploit the confusion between Linux the kernel and the "Linux OS" is because fanatics insist that because most people have always called the entire OS "Linux", we should continue to do so; despite the fact that it creates confusion between the kernel and the OS, while another name (GNU/Linux) ameliorates that confusion.

    Now, I'm not saying that if everyone knew that Linux referred properly to the kernel, and GNU/Linux to the set of OS distributions, this lawsuit would have been prevented. SCO still could have sued IBM, and still could have launched this smear-campaign. However, they would have to specify exactly what they were referring to -- the kernel or the entire OS. They would not be able to exploit ambiguity and confusion to as great an extent as they currently are.

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