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SPECIAL REPORT: Update on SCO-vs.-Linux situation

May 28, 2003 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

[Updated Jul. 21, 2004] — The bizarre “soap opera” of the SCO Group's attacks on IBM and the entire Linux community continues. In our ongoing efforts to provide potentially pertinent information to our readers, we bring you news of the latest developments . . .

  • IBM goes for SCO jugular in test of GPL validity — (Aug. 17, 2004) — IBM has turned the tables on SCO in… a maneuver that could provide the first major legal test of the GNU General Public License (GPL), and which could leave SCO all but unable to continue selling and supporting products based on Linux and Unix. Story
  • SCO loses first anti-Linux lawsuit — (Jul. 21, 2004) — SCO has essentially lost its lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler, one of two the financially ailing Unix vendor filed against high-profile Linux users in an effort to discredit the open source operating system and the GNU General Public License (GPL) under which it is distributed. SCO's other case against Linux user Autozone has been postponed, and SCO is also struggling in an earlier case against Linux powerhouse IBM, according to Bruce Perens, an expert on open source legal issues. Story
  • Moglen: SCO sues Novell to stay afloat — (Feb. 9, 2004) — The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) has published a position paper that indicates Linux customers will likely ignore SCO Group's legal threats until a court decision is rendered in the litigation brought by SCO Group against Novell on copyright ownership. Story
  • Copyright risk assessment and indemnification insurance firm hires prominent Linux legal expert — (Feb. 5, 2004) — Open Source Risk Management (OSRM) has hired Groklaw editor Pamela Jones as Director of Litigation Risk Research. OSRM provides copyright infringement risk analysis through text pattern matching technology, and markets vendor-neutral indemnification insurance to companies — such as embedded Linux device makers — using open source technology. Story
  • Red Hat unveils protection from copyright “infringement issues” — (Jan. 21, 2004) — Following in the footsteps of similar programs from HP, the OSDL, and Novell/SuSE, Red Hat today unveiled an “Open Source Assurance” program that includes an Intellectual Property Warranty stating that Red Hat will replace any code with an “infringement issue,” ensuring interrupted service and product use. Initially, the program is limited to Red Hat customers with valid subscriptions to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Story
  • Novell offers Linux indemnification “upgrade” — (Jan. 13, 2004) — Novell, which recently acquired prominent Linux distributor SuSE, has launched a copyright lawsuit indemnification program for qualifying enterprise and other customers. The company asserts that its legal connection to UNIX and SVR4 uniquely positions it to offer such indemnification. An indemnification plan for non-Novell customers is under development, the company says. Story
  • OSDL creates legal defense fund — (Jan. 12, 2004) — The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) has created a legal defense fund that will likely be used initially to cover its expenses and those of OSDL Fellow Linus Torvalds in response to the SCO subpoena of November, 2003. The fund could also be used to aid end users in certain kinds of cases. Any Linux customer sued by SCO for using Linux can request assistance from the fund through an application process currently being finalized. Story
  • Free software legal expert belittles SCO “shysters” — (Nov. 24, 2003) — Eben Moglen, General Counselor for the Free Software Foundation, has issued his second statement concerning the recent SCO lawsuits. The statement comprises an entertaining and accessible (for a legal document) summary of SCO's failure to provide either factual or legal support for its lawsuit against IBM alleging copyright infringements. Story.
  • MontaVista publishes an embedded perspective — (Aug. 21, 2003) — MontaVista Software produces one of the first perspectives on what SCO-gate means for embedded Linux. The paper provides detailed background on the case with many excellent source citations and references. Story.
  • Free Software Foundation Counsel Eben Moglen chastises SCO outside counsel Mark Heise — (Aug. 19, 2003) — Moglen says Heise's arguments are based upon an “intentional misreading” of U.S. Copyright law. Story
  • Open Source Council Larry Rosen offers reassuring Q&A on SCO lawsuit — (Aug. 16, 2003) — “Filed a few months ago, SCO's lawsuit against IBM has rankled the Linux community and disconcerted its users. Much of the worry is caused by press exaggeration . . . SCO vs. IBM should not be over-rated. It is a contract dispute between two companies with deep pockets, both of whom are prepared to send their attorneys into battle to protect their reputations and their economic interests . . .The entire situation must seem very murky to those of you not following it intently. These questions and answers may help you understand what's happening.” Story
  • National Post: Linux's lucky lawsuit — (Aug. 9, 2003) — “SCO's challenge of IBM's use of its software is not a threat to the open-source Linux operating system. If fact, SCO is a toad about to face a steamroller,” comments Wynn Quon, a chief technology analyst at Legado Associates, in this column published by the National Post of Canada. Quon suggests that the SCO threat against Linux is likely to be defeated, and, as a result, will serve to provide a useful validation of Linux and its GPL license. “Running a gauntlet of lawsuits is often the price of success in the corporate world. But with its powerful allies and with proper stewardship of its intellectual property issues, the future of Linux remains outstandingly bright. SCO may be the first in what could be a long line of legal assaults. But Linux will most assuredly get stronger with each attack, and that is hardly a cause for alarm.” Story.
  • Perens at LinuxWorld: prepare mutual legal defense now — (Aug. 8, 2003) — Open source spokesperson and former Debian project leader Bruce Perens spoke at LinuxWorld about legal issues that could impact the work of embedded developers. Perens painted a near future portrait of an Open Source world where litigation from companies such as SCO becomes commonplace, and unprepared developers are frequently forced to cede their copyrights and development rights to software patent holders simply because these developers are unprepared to litigate. Story
  • IBM accuses SCO of violating the GPL, infringing IBM patents, and more — (Aug. 7, 2003) — according to CNET, the IBM 45-page document court filing accuses SCO of violating the GNU General Public License (GPL) under which Linux is released, of violating four IBM software patents, and of interfering with IBM's business by attempting to terminate IBM's license to AIX. The IBM complaint asks for monetary damages, as well as an injunction preventing SCO from shipping software which, IBM says, violates IBM patents. Story
  • SCO Announces Intellectual Property License for Linux — (Aug. 5, 2003) — from the announcement: “The run-time license permits the use of SCO's intellectual property, in binary form only, as contained in Linux distributions. By purchasing a SCO Intellectual Property License, customers avoid infringement of SCO's intellectual property rights in Linux 2.4 and Linux 2.5 kernels. Because the SCO license authorizes run-time use only, customers also comply with the General Public License, under which Linux is distributed.” Story
  • Red Hat sues SCO, establishes $1M GPL legal defense fund — (Aug. 4, 2003) — Red Hat launched a pair of initiatives on August 4: a lawsuit filed against The SCO Group “to demonstrate that Red Hat's technologies do not infringe any intellectual property of SCO and to hold SCO accountable for its unfair and deceptive actions”; and the establishment of a legal defense fund to help defend and protect Open Source developers and projects from attacks such as SCO's, including funding of one million dollars by Red Hat. Story
  • OSDL position paper challenges SCO's anti-Linux threats — (Jul. 31, 2003) — the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) released a whitepaper, authored by one of the world's leading legal experts on copyright law as applied to software, Professor Eben Moglen of Columbia University, which provides a legal perspective on SCO's anti-Linux attacks and its questionable basis. Available for free download from Story
  • Stallman: SCO smear campaign can't defeat GNU community — (June 23, 2003) — Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation and author of the GNU General Public License, weighs in with his thoughts on the SCO attack on IBM and “Linux”. Stallman says: “In a community of over half a million developers, we can hardly expect that there will never be plagiarism. But it is no disaster; we discard that material and move on. If there is material in Linux that was contributed without legal authorization, the Linux developers will learn what it is and replace it. SCO cannot use its copyrights, or its contracts with specific parties, to suppress the lawful contributions of thousands of others . . . Our community cannot be defeated by this.” Story
  • OSI Position Paper on the SCO-vs.-IBM Complaint — (continually updated) — this position paper published by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was written in response to SCO/Caldera's against IBM. From the introduction: “SCO/Caldera's complaint against IBM disparaged the work of thousands of individual open-source contributors. These contributors feel themselves personally and professionally wronged by SCO/Caldera's unfounded allegations. In the tradition of the open-source movement, hundreds of individuals are now sending in their patches to help inform and evolve the OSI's position.” Story
  • SCO vs. IBM Research Summary — (continually updated) — This special website provides an informational resource on issues concerning Caldera/SCO's legal actions against IBM and open source projects, notably the Linux kernel. It is intended to serve as a complementary resource to the Open Source Initiative's OSI Position Paper on the SCO-vs.-IBM Complaint (previous item). Story
  • ZDNet: “Special Report” on SCO vs. IBM, Linux — (continually updated) — this ZDNet page provides a series of informative articles and opinion columns regarding the SCO lawsuit against IBM and threats against Linux. Story
  • CNET: SCO suit now seeks $3 billion from IBM — (June 17, 2003) — SCO Group has amended its suit against IBM, seeking more than $3 billion in damages for alleged copying of proprietary Unix intellectual property into Linux, reports CNET “The amended suit also asserts that SCO holds copyrights to Unix, a point that could be key in future Linux and Unix litigation . . . However, the suit still makes no claims of copyright violation, which several independent attorneys believe could lead to stronger claims than that of trade secret infringement . . .” Story
  • CNET: Why SCO decided to take IBM to court — (June 16, 2003) — In this interview with CNET, SCO CEO Darl McBride spoke about the origins of the IBM dispute, the side effects, and what comes next. One noteworthy quote from the interview: “When we take a top-tier view of the amount of code showing up inside of Linux today that is either directly related to our Unix System 5 that we directly own or is related to one of our flavors of Unix that we have derivative works rights over — we don't necessarily own those flavors, but we have control rights over how that information gets disseminated — the amount is substantial. We're not talking about just lines of code; we're talking about entire programs. We're talking about hundred of thousands of lines of code.” Story
  • Bruce Perens: Novell announces that it — not SCO — owns the Unix intellectual property — (May 28, 2003) — In the words of Bruce Perens: “This morning, Novell announced some of the terms of the company's 1995 agreement to sell its Unix business to SCO. The shocking news is that Novell did not sell the Unix intellectual property to SCO. Instead, they sold SCO a license to develop, sell, and sub-license Unix. The title to Unix copyrights and patents remains with Novell. To back up this assertion, Novell refers to public records at the Library of Congress Copyright Office and the U.S. Patent Office.” Story
  • Novell Challenges SCO Position, Reiterates Support for Linux — (May 28, 2003) — here is Novell's announcement, referenced in the previous item (above). First, Novell challenged SCO's assertion that it owns the copyrights and patents to Unix System V, pointing out that the asset purchase agreement entered into between Novell and SCO in 1995 did not transfer these rights to SCO. Second, Novell sought from SCO facts to back up its assertion that certain Unix System V code has been copied into Linux. Novell communicated these concerns to SCO via a letter (included with the announcement) from Novell Chairman and CEO Jack Messman in response to SCO making these claims. Story
  • SCO Statement on Novell's Recent Actions — (May 28, 2003) — Following the announcement by Novell that it — not SCO — owns title to the Unix copyrights, SCO issued a terse statement saying, among other things, that “SCO owns the contract rights to the Unix operating system,” that “SCO has the contractual right to prevent improper donations of Unix code, methods or concepts into Linux by any Unix vendor,” and that “SCO intends to protect and enforce all of the contracts that the company has with more than 6,000 licensees.” This story, previously here, has apparently been removed from SCO's website.
  • SCO warns Linux users of potential legal liability — (May 14, 2003) — SCO sent a “Letter to Linux Users” stating that it believes that “Linux infringes on [SCO's] UNIX intellectual property and other rights,” that it had suspended Linux-related activities its “until the issues surrounding Linux intellectual property and the attendant risks are better understood and properly resolved,” and warning Linux users that “legal liability that may arise from the Linux development process may also rest with the end user.” Story
  • SCO Files Lawsuit Against IBM — (Mar. 7, 2003) — SCO filed a highly publicized lawsuit against IBM, reportedly valued in the billions of dollars, charging that IBM has misappropriated technology obtained through its license of the Unix operating system to the detriment of SCO, and has tried to destroy the economic value of Unix (also to the detriment of SCO) through its massive support of the open source Linux operating system. Story

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