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Impacts of the SCO Case Outside of the US?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the is-it-affecting-your-business dept.

Businesses 46

Pecisk asks: "Maybe lot of you have already tired of discussing this, but I would like to know opinions (professional one would be very good) how much this case can have *legal* impact to Linux users/businesses in other regions like EU, Russia, Eastern Asia. I know that in many cases there's no effect of US court decisions to other countries, but how (for example) the EU patent law will take this, and in generally how much and do we have to be really worried about this case? This question is very important to me, and I guess, for other guys from non-US countries too. I want to know this also because when I have to speak about the using of Linux and free software in IT solutions and if someone argues about this case and it's impact to us, I would like to know what to answer (I'm from Latvia, Eastern Europe, we are going to vote for EU membership in September)."

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46 comments

If you are worried... (1, Offtopic)

nocomment (239368) | more than 10 years ago | (#6503673)

Use OpenBSD :-)

Re:If you are worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6506101)

(Score:3, Funny)

EH??!!?!?!?! Seems like a valid response to me.

Re:If you are worried... (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 10 years ago | (#6507872)

Right...BSD. Next you'll tell him to speak in Latin, and write in Sanskrit.

SCO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6503725)

Does SCO stand for Suits Cashing Others?

Copyright law, not patent law (2, Informative)

Saganaga (167162) | more than 10 years ago | (#6503877)

I don't mean to nitpick, but the SCO claims have nothing to do with patent law, rather copyright/intellectual property law.

Re:Copyright law, not patent law (2, Interesting)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 10 years ago | (#6503992)

I am nitpicking. What's an intellectual property law? Or, better yet, what exactally is 'intellectual property'? Is it anything like an idea? As of yet, I don't think we have any laws that apply to ideas.

Copyright law is one thing. Intellectual Property seems to be the latest 'buzz word', right alongside Synergy.

Re:Copyright law, not patent law (1)

Saganaga (167162) | more than 10 years ago | (#6504059)

Good point, I should have left intellectual property out of the discussion.

There is a big difference between patents and copyrights, however, which is what I was attempting to point out.

{Insert obligatory IANAL statement here}

Re:Copyright law, not patent law (1)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 10 years ago | (#6514242)

Intellectual property is a group term for 4 major ideas (and maybe a minor one or two). Inside IP you have 4 very different things which work very differently...

1) Patents, a patent is a way of saying Hey i have this cool idea. You then tell everyone what it is and the government gives you a monopoly on it for a set period of time (17 years in most cases). The upshot of it is that you have to tell everyone how it works so after those 17 years everyone can work with it.

2) Copyright, litterally the right to make a copy. This post for example has a copyright, owned by me, which says that you can't exactly copy it somewhere else without my say so, except under some specific terms. You can however write a post that says about the same thing but in different words.

3) Trademark/service mark. A term or logo or the like which identifies a company or ogranization. So for example I can not print a newspaper and call it "The New York Times". Only the New York Times company can do that. I can ofcourse publish a paper in New York with a different name.

4) Trade Secrets, which are things that well must remain secret. So for example the formula for Coca-cola is a trade secret.

The thing is these are 4 things which sort of fall together in a conceptual space but really work very differently.

--Zach

Re:Copyright law, not patent law (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 10 years ago | (#6507630)

SCO has made all sorts of wild statements to the press about copyright, but their suit against IBM has to do only with breach of contract.

It's bogus (3, Informative)

korpiq (8532) | more than 10 years ago | (#6503892)


IBM is sure it won't stand the test of a real trial, and they are putting all their eggs in that basket, so they are pretty sure about it. Even if they aren't, and SCO wins, they'll just buy SCO out; that way, they'd only lose the real battle, that's about whether you can make money by forcing a bigger company to buy you by becoming enough of a hassle.

Got it? They got no case. Even if they did, it'd be solved by IBM buying them out.

Then again - like someone already pointed out ;) - you should be well advised to mention in your talks also the *BSD efforts and that whenever one free *nix path closes, there are several more open, and that's about as central a point of open source as there is. Think about it.

Even if there were some patented or otherwise somehow restricted code in some version of Linux, it doesn't hinder development at all. It'd be just dropped out and a new version without it released immediately. It's functionality would be reimplemented in other ways, pretty soon, and with pretty big wheels behind it, now that IBM et al are playing along.

s/It's functionality/Its functionality/ (1)

korpiq (8532) | more than 10 years ago | (#6503938)

omfg a missspeling

Re:s/It's functionality/Its functionality/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6510536)

It's spelled "misspelling".

Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone...

Re:It's bogus (2, Interesting)

belroth (103586) | more than 10 years ago | (#6504580)

It's even more fun if you read the Register - IBM is giving a copy of SuSE Enterprise Linux with some Power4 pSeries machines - One to Four way SMP boxes.
It's a nice gentle way of IBM to play down the Itanium in favour of their own processor, and subtly flipping SCO the bird.

SCO discussions (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6503939)

Maybe lot of you have already tired of discussing this...

Although I don't have an opinion on this specific question, I for one think that the SCO discussions are the best thing /. has going right now. Very interesting and informative, and it is frankly pretty exciting. I hope that the /. editors keep up posting the latest on this.

It is starting to sound like a soap opera. For those who haven't been paying attention here are the players:

1. SCO. The bad guys. Think Alan Rickman in Die Hard. Smart, but really, really bad. Also they think they own UNIX.

2. IBM. The strong silent type. Well, they are silent, at least. They are just standing around with a big stick, not saying much. Hopefully we'll get to see some stick, before this is over.

3. Microsoft. The secret funders of SCO's evil.

4. Novell the previous *real* owner of UNIX.

5. AT+T the current *real* owner of UNIX. You would think that with something this valuable, these companies would actually know who owns it.

6. Linus. The copyright holder of the Linux name. Seems not to be either worried or interested in this debate.

6. RMS. He is the clueless wildcard. So far the only statement from his camp has been a bumbling, "It's GNU/Linux!" Nobody seems to have listened. He is definately the Ozzy of these Osbournes.

7. CmdrTaco. The guy with the gas and the matches.

8. The GPL. That horrid group of words that makes this all really interesting. Its effects are somewhere between smallpox and cholera.

8. The /. minions. The peanut gallery of this story. Expect lots of jokes about patenting air. Also expect lots of accusations that SCO is evil. Unfortunately, few of them admit that SCO is smart as well, which it is.

Response to #8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6503962)

In today's news, SCO patented air! LOL

BTW, SCO is evil

Re:SCO discussions (1)

PhlegmMaster (596165) | more than 10 years ago | (#6506973)

4. Novell the previous *real* owner of UNIX.

5. AT+T the current *real* owner of UNIX. You would think that with something this valuable, these companies would actually know who owns it.


Yeah, *real* until they sold their rights to SCO ages ago.

8. The GPL. That horrid group of words that makes this all really interesting. Its effects are somewhere between smallpox and cholera.

Where a BSD license couldn't go wrong.

Re:SCO discussions (1)

borgheron (172546) | more than 10 years ago | (#6529683)

Not really. ;) AT&T sold the patent rights and copyrights to USL (UNIX Systems Labs) which then proceeded to pull a similar manuever back in 1991 to stem the progress of the *BSD crowd of OSes. They alleged that *BSD had AT&T code in it and couldn't be distribited without a license from them. (sound familiar??) They lost when the court found that there was NO Sys V code in BSD and that USL had copied much of the BSD code into SysV, thereby significantly weakining their claim. While USL went off to lick it's very deep wounds, it sold it's interest in UNIX to Novell.

Novell, after some brain fart, sold the copyrights to UNIX System V Rev 4 to the *original* Santa Cruz Operation.

Caldera, then buys SCO. Now Caldera owns the copyrights to UNIX. A portion of the company still calling itself SCO breaks off and renames itself Tarantella to focus on their web framework. Meanwhile, Ransom Love (the CEO of Caldera) is saying that "Caldera is combining Linux and UNIX for the Enterprise". Caldera renames itself the "SCO Group" and continues to try to sell it's brand of Linux. Ransom Love leaves the company and Darl McBride is brought on as CEO. And well... we all know the story from here on... he decides to pull the biggest betrayal the Free Software/Open Source community has ever seen and proceeds to sue everyone in sight in a terrible fit of Sour Grapes because SCO-Caldera is doing so poorly.

Conclusion:

There is currently very little reason to believe SCO-Caldera's allegations. They have shown no proof, they continue to knowingly distribute the kernel under the GPL today, and they are, legally, in what is called "laches". Laches refers to a delay in litigation. If someone is infringing on your rights, it is up to you to act ASAP. You can't like SCO, wait and then sue because it's obvious you can't compete.

It's doubtful that any ruling in SCO's favor, although the chances of them winning are remote, will have any lasting effect on Linux itself. The offending code will be removed and we will go on.

The whole thing is far from over and far from proven. We will prevail.

GJC

Re:SCO discussions (1)

Storm Damage (133732) | more than 10 years ago | (#6512315)

6. RMS. He is the clueless wildcard. So far the only statement from his camp has been a bumbling, "It's GNU/Linux!" Nobody seems to have listened. He is definately the Ozzy of these Osbournes.

The FSF response to the SCO lawsuit was written by Eben Moglen. Also, after you get past the "It's GNU/Linux", they open up a barrage of incredible logic and common-sense, making the over-all release a good read.

The Foundation notes that despite the alarmist statements SCO's employees have made, the Foundation has not been sued, nor has SCO, despite our requests, identified any work whose copyright the Foundation holds-including all of IBM's modifications to the kernel for use with IBM's S/390 mainframe computers, assigned to the Foundation by IBM--that SCO asserts infringes its rights in any way.


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.

releasing linux doesn't hurt trade-secret case. (1)

siskbc (598067) | more than 10 years ago | (#6515307)

The FSF response to the SCO lawsuit was written by Eben Moglen. Also, after you get past the "It's GNU/Linux", they open up a barrage of incredible logic and common-sense, making the over-all release a good read.

It's incorrect to a degree, however interesting it may be. FSF forgot to consider how harms are evaluated in a trade-secret case. The fact that SCO distributed linux isn't relevant to that (though it is relevant to SCO's copyright attack on linux users). They could make a strong case that their trade-secret code was made non-secret when it was committed to the linux CVS tree, which one would presume occurred before they distributed it through linux.

Therefore, IBM would be at fault for making SCO's information public. By releasing linux, SCO would simply be re-releasing information that was, by that point, no longer secret. It doesn't at all kill their case against IBM from a trade secret stance.

RMS = Ozzy Osbourne? (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#6519814)

Man, stop dissing Ozzy. He's not crazy, just eccentric.

In fact, if there's an Ozzy in the bunch it's Steve Jobs - they both like to think different. Although Jobs would probably prefer being compared to David Bowie.

New acronym needed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6504029)

I'm from Latvia, Eastern Europe...

Sorry, IANALL.

Erm... (1)

mcgroarty (633843) | more than 10 years ago | (#6504449)

Wouldn't it have made more sense to publish this story at a time when folks in these countries would still be awake? :-)

Re:Erm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6506150)

> Wouldn't it have made more sense to publish this story at a time when folks in these countries would still be awake? :-)

Yeah, it's a pity Slashdot stories only last a few hours instead of a few days.

Oh, wait ...

Re:Erm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6508181)

Yeah, it's a pity Slashdot stories only last a few hours instead of a few days
Actually, comments drop off precipitously as a story ages. Half the comments usually come in the first 90 minutes or so.

Impact outside USA (2, Interesting)

Eivind (15695) | more than 10 years ago | (#6504691)

..will be exactly the same as inside the USA.

That is, zero. SCO does not have a leg to stand on, and they know it. It's the only reasonable explanation why we STILL haven't even been told exactly what we're supposed to have done wrong.

It MIGTH have the impact of scaring some people, if they are sufficiently easily scared that they wet their pants when faced with a near-bankrupt desperate firm, and a 800 pound gorilla is figthing on your side.

Patent law is irrelevant, SCO has not even claimed that they own patents on anything in Linux (they couldn't, patents are public). Nor have they claimed to have copyrigth on anything in Linux. They do however claim to have a contract with IBM that prevents IBM from doing some things (unspecified ones!) that IBM then went ahead and did anyway.

They're bogus. Ignore them. Sleep calmly.

Re:Impact outside USA (1)

ninewands (105734) | more than 10 years ago | (#6507749)

Quoth the poster:
They do however claim to have a contract with IBM that prevents IBM from doing some things (unspecified ones!) that IBM then went ahead and did anyway.

Don't you mean ...

that IBM then allegedly went ahead and did anyway ... ?

They're bogus. Ignore them. Sleep calmly.

I could NOT agree more.

Re:Impact outside USA (1)

KrisJon (6582) | more than 10 years ago | (#6510267)

I think it's rather obvious what their strategy is: They are trying to scare as many big companies into coughing up the $$ BEFORE they really know what the REAL problems are. SCO knows very well that less than 24 hours after they disclose exactly which portions of code are "theirs," a new version of the kernel will be out and the money they can extort from corps will drop off to zero.

Translation (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6504788)

Dear Slashdot,

In spite of the fact that (a) most of you are not lawyers, and (b) even if you are lawyers, you most likely know little about foreign IP law, I'd like some legal advice about the following -- poorly defined -- legal question. I'd ask a real lawyer, but I'm too cheap. . .

Thanks,

Eastern European IP "Expert"

Sing em the SCO song... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6504799)

To the tune of 'Old McDonald', if you don't know that then any latvian folk dance tune should suffice!
Old McBride he had some IP
IBIBM
And that IP it was not free
IBIBM

chorus
With some SCO code here; Some SCO code there
Here a SCO, there a SCO; Everywhere a SCO SCO

The linux kernel had SMP
IBIBM
And that code was from Project Monterey
IBIBM

chorus

The linux kernel had NUMA
IBIBM
Then someone spread rumours
IBIBM

chorus

The linux kernel had JFS
IBIBM
And Christoph Hellwig did his best
IBIBM

chorus

Old McBride owns none of that [archive.org]
IBIBM
How we'd love to see THAT contract
IBIBM

With a lawsuit here; A counter-suit there
Sue a SCO, sue a SCO; Everybody sue a SCO SCO

Tere Tulemast! (0, Offtopic)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 10 years ago | (#6505262)

(Whoops... wrong country) Riga [romartraveler.com] is a beautiful capital. The plaza area in front of the stock exchange is a cool place to hang out, and the cat house's statue is wonderful!

Germany already downsmacked SCO (3, Interesting)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 10 years ago | (#6505625)

I really doubt they'll have any luck overseas.

Germany fined SCO $10000 for making threatening statements.

Lets see if I can answer for the /. crowd (3)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 10 years ago | (#6506130)

I am not a lawyer
I do not live in your country
I would have a hard time pointing to your country on a map
I do know however everything there is to know about those dirtbags at SCO
I do know everything about how Intellectual Property should work in the real world

You have nothing to worry about of course because SCO will fail in court, all though I have not signed the NDA so have no idea what evidence SCO can present, or if I have signed an NDA, couldn't tell you about it anyway

Does that just about cover it ?

Welcome to Australia, D'ohl... (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 10 years ago | (#6506871)

Here's yer dilly bag, this [50megs.com] is [50megs.com] a place we call the Simpson. We'd like you to think about your destructive greed for a while, mate. Catch yer 'round. <roar of diesel engine charging off over next sand dune>

I'm from Canada (1)

Dan9999 (679463) | more than 10 years ago | (#6508093)

so I am under the inevitable rule of US law, there isn't anything that I can add to this unfortunately.

Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6508204)

Given that SCO are claiming copyright on stuff that is not theirs, it could make an interesting case. It is a criminal (ie. gaolable) offence in Australia to falsely claim copyright. Even tougher penaties than violating copyrights.

Then again, the Australian government is compliant enough that I'm sure SCO, as someone with money, could work something out.

Courts in Asia (2, Informative)

shaggie (674580) | more than 10 years ago | (#6508396)

Far as I have encountered, although legally US court decisions have no bearing on cases in most countries in Asia, with the exception of the "Commie" Countries, the decision made by US courts on the similar case are usually used as evidence in Asian courts, and the courts here usually come to the same ruling as the US courts because either the judges are too lazy to actually finish the trial and follow the reasoning that if the US ruled that way, its good enough for me, or some other lameass reasoning.

In high profile cases, even the commie courts can be swayed.

I highly doubt SCO would try to pull suits off in Asia other than places like Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan. Too much hassle and not enough money to be made in the other places if they win.

Piracy has been ramphant in Asia for years, if companies like Microsoft could've made money from lawsuits in Asia, they would've already done so ages ago. No point in paying millions in legal fees when the companies being sued can't even pay the settlement.

In South Africa........ (1)

overlordhab (655593) | more than 10 years ago | (#6509051)

huh?!.... there is a lawsuit? Who is SCO? What is UnixWare? ....... and sometimes ..... What is GPL? What is Linux?

How about the GPL? (2, Interesting)

xyrw (609810) | more than 10 years ago | (#6509608)

I think that the more significant war is with the credibility of the GPL. The repercussions of this case will probably not be about specific companies, but Linux adoption in general. If IBM crushes SCO in court, then the GPL *may* in the process be strangthened. But if IBM loses and has to buy out SCO, the strength of the GPL as a legally recognised license will be weakened.

Even if this weakening or strengthening is only in the US, other countries' IT industries will be influenced in a similar way, since the nature of open source is that national boundaries cannot (totally) insulate effects in one country from another.

Bah, US. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6512376)

Anyone else a little miffed this non-US story didn't make the front page?

The View From Hungary (1)

Ed Almos (584864) | more than 10 years ago | (#6515385)

Like you we are about to join the E.U. so I think our positions are similar. I have spoken over the last weeks to quite a few people in the technical community and the comments varied from 'If you used Microsoft you would not have these problems' (Unisys) to an IBM manager who burst out laughing when I asked him for the company position on the matter.

Even if US law applied in the E.U. this would not affect us for a number of years as no evidence has been presented and, in all certainty, whoever won the case it will likely go to appeal. As for us, we are running a sixteen node Linux cluster plus a dozen or so servers and according to our legal department we don't owe SCO a single Forint.

If SCO turn up at our door the last thing they would hear as they are escorted back out the door would be our laughter.

Ed Almos
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