What SCO Wants, SCO Gets

This story paints a scary picture of what SCO may be about. Sure, Linux users all over the world deride them and laugh, but how many of you cheered when they beat Microsoft over the DOS lawsuit? Now they’re coming after Unix and Linux with the exact same tactics. One might argue the open source and Free software is different, but if the big boys desert Linux then lots of development is going to slow or stop..

These guys in Utah are no dummies. The crunchies in the Linux community should be paying more attention.

Author: Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

1 thought on “ What SCO Wants, SCO Gets”

  1. I’ve said this before in other settings and forums, but of course the wearers of GPL underpants, those singers of the Stallman socialist song, the fanatics out on the fringe of the Linux community, think they can just recompile their way out of trouble.

    If SCO win, if they beat IBM, they will have enough to rip every Linux distro vendor to shreds by taking them to court and looking for retroactive payments.

    As well as that, a victory against IBM will allow them to take out a preliminary injunction preventing Linux vendors from distributing or selling any Linux products. Overnight RedHat simply stops being able to move bits across the net, or stuff those bits in boxes. The bond required to do this would be covered by any IBM settlement they received as a result of that win.

    This argument that you can just re-compile the code out, is as insane as saying that by destroying the body after the fact, you can’t be charged with murder. If there is tainted unlicensed code in the kernel, using it is breaking the law. And while this may not worry Joe GPL, it’s a massive headache to the big enterprise vendors who buy products such as RH Advanced Server, and pay SuSE for all those licensed Personal Desktop seats and the services which come with it, all of which can now find them selves open to legal action from SCO.

    So much for the growth of Linux, CIO’s will drop it like a hot potato.

    As for the trial itself, we don’t know what they have and I wouldn’t believe the rumours of just “80 lines of code”. Rumour mongering about something like this is always wrong. In the end it doesn’t matter if it’s 8 lines of code or 80M lines of code a breach of IP is a breach of IP and under US law, you’re going down if they prove a breach.

    At the very least I’d guess they’d depose Linus, and I’d expect to see him on the stand if this goes to trial. They’ll be looking to prove that, as the guy, who stamps the kernel, doesn’t check for IP or licensing violations, and I can’t see how the guy ever could.

    That doesn’t convey guilt or innocence but it does show that it’s possible that unknown to many people, even Linus/Alan and so on, SCO’s System V assets could have made it into the kernel. If they can tie that to IBM stuffing code in there, then a judge would have difficulty not ruling in their favour.

    This is a pure financial play, but it’s a very dangerous play for the community and there’s nothing the community can do about it.

    If IBM loses, a legal firestorm is unleashed and this sets a nasty precedent for the future. Can anyone honestly say that someone else’s IP is sitting elsewhere in Linux and any GPL’d applications which run on it?

    Could this be the start of a rake of lawsuits against project maintainers?

    We’ll see.

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