How Serious is SCO?

 
 
 
 

How Serious is the SCO / IBM / Linux battle


I find it amazing to watch all of the controversy from the battle of the SCO camp. They seem to have an interesting view that requires some very talented lawyers to understand. The question in my mind is how much code will a lawyer or a judge understand? Sure, there are lines in the code that are similar, the function of lots of routines have to do things in a very similar way. That doesn't mean the code belongs to SCO. I am not a lawyer, and can't comprehend some of the logic in the rhetoric I have seen about the case, but I have taken at least one course in copyright law (back when it was not quite as convoluted as it is now).

SCO is claiming that IBM's Linux Business model is flawed however they have only turned a profit a very few times in the last 10 years. SCO stock has certainly been on an interesting ride. If IBM's business model is so flawed why is it many of the SCO crew are selling their stock before this battle gets to court? Maybe it is because they have been able to convince a few investors that the current licensing scheme will help to make the company profitable.

SCO in an effort to bolster their claim that they are serious put on a display to prove that there was a substantial amount of code lifted from their copyrighted material. From the Open Source side Linus Torvalds in an interview by ZDNet says if this is the best example of copyright violations, 'they are bound to lose'. Bruce Perens looked at the code that was shown and came up with his own similar conclusions. Eric Raymond chimed in with another analysis of the examples of code.

The problem with SCO's position seems to fail on several points. They are ignoring the court opionions and rulings of the past concerning BSD. They are claiming anything related to their code is theirs. They don't recognize that their documents from Caldera say the software is not under their ownership. SCO seems to believe that the GPL can be used to abuse end users and other companies alike because it has not had a through trouncing in court.

Has anyone noticed that Microsoft changed their basic license to include an indemnification clause just 6 days before SCO came out with the "IBM needs to indemnify customers" line? Does anyone think that a paultry $10 million would be any influence in this battle? Why has SCO been claiming they own this software when their own company direction has forked several times in the past? Any speculation whether there is more than one agenda being fought with this battle?

Looking back at my copy (dated 1996)(yes I own one) of the Caldera Open Linux Base manual I find that there is a paragraph that mentions what is considered proprietary in the release, and what is not. The scan of that page can be found here. Notice it says "Caldera has included the Netscape Navigator (r) browser and other commercial software that runs with the Linux operating system. These commercial components cannot be freely distributed, but are licensed on a per system basis from Caldera, Inc. when you purchased this copy of OpenLinux Base. You must have a license for each computer that runs any of these commercial components." I didn't see any specific mention of the Linux kernel or parts of it being claimed as belonging to Caldera.

After watching this unfold for a number of months, I thought I would contribute my part. A survey that is just as serious as SCO is about their claims. It has been a long time since I had a reason to run SCO software. I figure that with the current seriousness of the lawsuits that this battle may not live long enough to make it to court.

Dave

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