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Is the SCO Lawsuit a Good Thing for Linux?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the tetanus-shot dept.

The Courts 422

Jack William Bell writes "The National Post is running an essay by Wynn Quon entitled 'Linux's lucky lawsuit'. In it Quon claims that (A) SCO is going to lose (saying ". . . SCO is a toad about to face a steamroller.") and (B) the Linux community needs exactly this kind of 'inoculation' as the OS moves from a hobbyist platform to a real business tool. Good analysis or unwarranted optimism?"

cancel ×

422 comments

fuck all y'all (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655617)

i'm going to have to go with fuck all y'all on this one.

Dear Professor Linux... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655819)

Dear Professor Linux,

How can I keep from soiling my underpanties in rage every time I hear wee French referred to as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys"?

Sincerely,
Francois "Vichy" P.

FIRST POST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655624)

FIRST POST

FP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655626)

Did I do it?

Er... no (5, Insightful)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655634)

Wouldn't we just be better off with all these companies putting this money into Linux instead of lawsuits?

Re:Er... no (4, Insightful)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655640)

Even if you put all the money in the world into a product (ie. Linux) will be wasted if you cannot defend your property in court.

If Linux is to survive, it is imperative that its license, the obnoxious GPL, is tested in court.

Re:Er... no (4, Insightful)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655674)

Nice sentiment, but this case isn't about testing the GPL, it's about claims of stolen IP. "Testing the GPL" is bunk because it's a license chosen by the developer, the owner of the code. They can do what they like with it in our (currently) free society.

Re:Er... no (5, Insightful)

bwt (68845) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655783)

What do you mean "the" developer? Are you talking about SCO? IBM? Linux Torvalds? Alan Cox? etc...

The case absolutely will test the GPL, because both IBM and Red Hat have raised GPL license issues. SCO distributed GPL'd code (even if they assert it was a mix of GPL'd code with their own code) and the legal question is what legal rights did they agree to waive by doing so.

Re:Er... no (5, Interesting)

xyvimur (268026) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655680)

``If Linux is to survive, it is imperative that its license, the obnoxious GPL, is tested in court''
Thats exactly the point. And if GPL suceeds, linux wins, then business will not hestitate to accept, invest and use it.

Why it indeed could turn out to be a good thing (4, Interesting)

RoLi (141856) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655729)

If Linux is to survive, it is imperative that its license, the obnoxious GPL, is tested in court.

Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.

However, why the SCO case could indeed be a good thing for Linux is that people, managers and businessmen could wake up and realize that the GPL is a true "no sue" license.

The risk of getting fined by the BSA is much higher than any risks from the GPL. (Actually there simply are no risks from a user's point of view. As long as you don't redistribute, there is no risk because there is no way to violate the license.)

In times in which many companies spend a significant portion of their revenue on lawers, a no-sue, no-IP-bullshit license like the GPL is exactly what is needed for a lot of companies.

Re:Why it indeed could turn out to be a good thing (1)

rekkanoryo (676146) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655759)

Yes, you're exactly right. And the best part about the GPL is that the BSA can only scratch their asses and get glad, because it makes them irrelevant. Unless of course there are still Windows workstations in the mix, but that's another issue entirely...

Re:Why it indeed could turn out to be a good thing (3, Insightful)

Jack William Bell (84469) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655775)

Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.
Perhaps it isn't about the GPL for SCO. But I am willing to bet dollars to donuts the GPL is going to be a big part of the case before it is over.

Re:Why it indeed could turn out to be a good thing (5, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655791)

Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.

The original suit wasn't about the GPL. However, one of the specific points of of IBM's countersuit [com.com] is that SCO distributed Linux under the GPL and thus removed any claim they may have otherwise have had to exclusive ownership of parts of the code in the Linux kernel. This IS a direct test of the GPL, and it will likely be one of the first issues decided since, if it stands, it makes all of the other issues in the suit irrelevant.

Re:Why it indeed could turn out to be a good thing (2, Informative)

bwt (68845) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655795)

IBM and Red Hat disagree that this case is not about the GPL, each having raised the GPL issue in their court filings.

Re:Why it indeed could turn out to be a good thing (4, Insightful)

eric76 (679787) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655815)

Contrary to the popular belief, the SCO case never was and never will be about the GPL.

The SCO lawsuit against IBM was not about the GPL.

The Red Hat lawsuit against SCO is about the GPL, as is the IBM countersuit against SCO.

Re:Er... no (1)

xyvimur (268026) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655659)

It would be better, but the situation requires the fight. So the best thing to do is to fight SCO, win the fight and then after that fight linux will be seen in `different colors' from the business point of view. Of course this is the optimistic and probable variant. There are other which I don't want to think about right now.

Linux is a Product now (3, Insightful)

bstadil (7110) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655732)

Wouldn't we just be better off with all these companies putting this money into Linux instead of lawsuits?

Over and above the fact that this is not an option it wouldn't be.

It's the same argument as stating we do not need advertising, packaging, etc.

Linux is moving from being a Solution to a Product. A product that needs to compete with other Products in the market place. This means that all the intangibles starts to be very important wether you like it or not.

FUD is a legitimate marketing tool used by alternative products and your Product needs to be able to withstand the critisism.

That is why we need this lawsuit, need for GPL to be declared a legal enforcable license, and for SCO to be silences (or better killed)

Re:Don't we all wish it was that simple (2, Insightful)

big-magic (695949) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655781)

The reality is that these lawsuits are a necessary step along the way. With so much money involved, we all knew this day would come. You didn't expect companies that are losing sales to Linux to throw up their hands and say "Oh well"? If I was in their shoes, I would put up a fight as well. So, the author of the article is right. The quicker this is begun and over with, the Linux can take it to the next level. Besides, there is no such thing as bad publicity

The odd thing is that I didn't expect the lawsuit to come from SCO. I would have expected Microsoft (conspiracy theories aside) or maybe Sun. Also, I expected the initial lawsuits to be about patents and not copyrights. I actually think there are more lawsuits in the future for Linux. Since patents are more broadly defined, future lawsuits about patents could be even more dangerous than the SCO suit.

It's what mom used to say (4, Insightful)

Joe Jordan (453607) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655636)

What doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Same thing here.

Re:It's what mom used to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655644)

You didn't answer the question.

Re:It's what mom used to say (5, Insightful)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655658)

What doesn't kill you can still leave you maimed and crippled. The same goes for Linux.

Re:It's what mom used to say (1)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655773)

What doesn't kill you can still leave you maimed and crippled. The same goes for Linux.

Yeah, like FDR. Look what a screwup he turned out to be... ;-)

Re:It's what mom used to say (5, Funny)

corby (56462) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655722)

Your mom was Frederick Nietzsche?

Ewww, that's worse than that whole 'Who is Cartman's Mom?' plotline.

Re:It's what mom used to say (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655728)

Your mom was Nietzsche [urbandictionary.com] ?

Re:It's what mom used to say (1)

in7ane (678796) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655743)

Not necessarily, and I don't think you can generalize in this case. It is true that SCO's eventual loss will set an important legal precedent, which will either deter or make it easier to win future lawsuits of a similar nature.

In another scenario, where SCO was still not a nearly-bankrupt shell of a firm and Linux was a few years younger, this may have resulted in Linux 'surviving' in a grey area of the law.

It's lucky that the lawsuit happened right now, when bigger companies than SCO are going to fight it.

Re:It's what mom used to say (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655747)

What doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Same thing here.

Mental image of a car crash in wich you are crippled instead of killed...

don't take it personal though, my mom allways said a lot of BS too.

jury duty (1)

SKPhoton (683703) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655637)

I hope I get called in for jury duty on this one. "Down with SCO! What were your arguements again? Eh, they don't matter." I've already made my decision on this case.

Re:jury duty (1)

SKPhoton (683703) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655684)

Unless the judge is an actual geek who really understands what's going on more than finger pointing and worthless patents and whatnot, we might see the big corporations using the laws to force their ways upon others, see: RIAA

Re:jury duty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655734)

In this case, you won't be appointed to jury duty because you already have an opinion on the case.

Re:jury duty (2, Interesting)

flafish (305068) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655800)

You can have an oppinion and still sit on a jury.

Works both ways as the defendant might wish you to be there if you support them or the plaintif might if you support them. At times they want informed jurors and as long as you agree to listen to the law as instructed by the judge, you might get on the case.

Been there, done that. Several times.

NO it is NOT good for Linux (-1, Troll)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655639)

Don't be an idiot!

Re:NO it is NOT good for Linux (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655700)

Linux needs to prove itself in battle. I think SCO should be suing Linus T. Let's see what you're made of, Linus. Chump!

No publicity is bad publicity? (4, Insightful)

popeydotcom (114724) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655641)

Whatever the legal outcome, the fact that people I know who never normally talk about this kind of stuff are starting to get 'interested' in Linux is a good thing (tm) for sure.

I've just got back from the Hampshire LUG [lug.org.uk] meet where we had a good few 'noob' people arrive. We had a good chin-wag about SCO, and generally chewed the fat about all things Linux.

Non-Linux literate people just don't realize how big this open source thing is getting. It's great!

Re:No publicity is bad publicity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655828)

>Non-Linux literate people just don't realize how big this open source thing is getting. It's great!

Even if Linux, the kernel, gets killed, we still can expect great things comming from Linux, the community.

From the article (1)

Omkar (618823) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655645)

SCO is strong enough to provoke a strengthening of Linux's defences but not so strong that it poses any real danger.

But really, I thought the GPL et al. were pretty strong already. My impression of the SCO lawsuit was that the idiot courts play a much bigger role in prolonging it than any Linux advocate. Linux's legal defences are adequate; our country's implementation of them is not.

Re:From the article (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655692)

Linux's legal defences are adequate; our country's implementation of them is not.

Are you under the impression this sentence meant something?

Yes (1)

Omkar (618823) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655724)

To be more explicit: Linux has what it needs to protect itself. The courts are just doing a bad job of enforcing the rules.

Kind of (1, Interesting)

The Old Burke (679901) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655648)

(B) the Linux community needs exactly this kind of 'inoculation' as the OS moves from a hobbyist platform to a real business tool.
Yes, the Linux community need this if Linux is going to grow up from a hobby thing to something more usefull for the bussiness.
Let's face it; Linux is cool and everything, but its not very usefull for most businesse today the way it is today with all the distros in economy problem and with only freelance coders.

Re:Kind of (5, Interesting)

Trolling4Dollars (627073) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655752)

...if Linux is going to grow up from a hobby thing to something more usefull for the bussiness.

Why is this a necessity? I don't care if businesses can use it or not. What I really care about is whether I can use it or not. So far Linux has provided me with a very inexpensive way of automating my house, building my own appliances and completely customizing my desktops for the ultimate usability. From my perspecitve Linux has been very successful from day one with it's injection into business being a less important and happy accident.

Sure, the assistance from corporate coders who have contributed to Linux has been wonderful. But it should be taken as it is: it's free, volunteer effort dedicated to the betterment of the human condition through computing. There is only one reason to be involved with Linux and one reason only: because you love computer technology and OSes for what they are: cool toys.

The thing that always irks me is the people who think that if Linux is going to "survive" it needs to somehow become this hugely popular OS that is commercially successful. This is not a requirement at all. It's a side effect of the dreck that has polluted American capitalism. Profit is not the only reason to do something. If anything profit should only be a side-effect in fair capitalism. That's real competition. Surviving by your own real abilities without putting any kind of spin on it. Microsoft puts a spin on everything because they have lost their center (or possibly never had it). For them the center is profit and the OS and software are secondary with the customer coming last. They only throw crumbs to the customer to keep them buying: "It's fixed this time. You just need to upgrade that's all!"

If you were to completely corporatize Linux, it wouldn't get any better. It would just *LOOK* better. That's the difference. Good looks are never a good substitute for quality. Those of us that eschew Windows and embrace Linux know this to be true.

Re:Kind of (1)

Jack William Bell (84469) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655804)

So you are saying that Linux should remain a hobbyist's tool?

If that is the case, it is a pretty damn self-centered view. Especially considering that many different businesses have added much of value to Linux as they sought to make it more valuable for themselves. If it isn't the case, then perhaps you should care ". . . if businesses can use it or not."

My guess is that you wouldn't be using Linux the way you do today if Linux had not been used by business, big and small, for the past decade.

no man... (1)

mschoolbus (627182) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655650)

They are obviously trying to make a big profit and get out, killing Linux is a product of them making money.

I don't think this negative information about Linux helps anyone but them...

heres mcbrides address (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655652)

Darl C. McBride
1799 Vintage Oak Ln
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
(801) 424 - 2006
google [google.com]

It's early optimism (3, Insightful)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655654)

It's just too soon to tell. Yes, it could be a positive in terms of GPL, but the FUD machine is still rolling along, and that is a huge negative.

The Unix IP Jungle: Lessons from the Past (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655656)

If the latest revalations regarding IBM's possible leakage of copyrighted Unix code into Linux have proven anything, it is that using any derivative of this outdated operating system is a legal disaster waiting to happen. Not only is Linux licensed under the anti-business GNU General Public License, but it turns out that commercial code may have been unlawfully added, making it illegal to use or distribute.

This should suprise no one familiar with the history of Unix. The earliest version was an unlicensed ripoff of the proprietary Multics operating system, and was partly responsible for destroying the market for this pioneering operating system. The Berkeley Shareware Distribution (BSD) was sued by AT&T in the early 1990s, for openly distributing copyrighted code in its public-domain source releases. As if this wasn't enough, it turned out that AT&T had also broken the license on code they had taken from BSD, leaving both sides forced to essentially accept the other's illegal behavior in order to avoid stiffer penalties.

Reputable software companies such as Microsoft, though initially interested in Unix, have learned to steer clear of the mess of standards, licenses, and conflicting intellectual property rights that Unix forms. Microsoft Windows XP [microsoft.com] is the latest release of Microsoft's flagship version of Windows, built from the ground up in the early 1990s based on the most modern concepts in operating systems, without any legacy baggage from the 1970s. And it is available essentially for free, preloaded on hardware from all major manufacturers. There is really no reason to use anything else, unless you need a truly high-performance computing system such as IBM's proprietary OS/390 or HP's OpenVMS.

Re:The Unix IP Jungle: Lessons from the Past (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655707)

There is really no reason to use anythingelse,[but Windows] unless you need a truly high-performance computing system such as IBM's proprietary OS/390 or HP's OpenVMS.

Or you want reliability, availability, security, or immunity from the plague of Windows-overrun exploits and attachment viruses.

You're also on pretty shaky ground in the claim that Windows doesn't push the line with patents or other intellectual property (viz. Stac.)

Re:The Unix IP Jungle: Lessons from the Past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655741)

That's great to know, Bill.

Re:The Unix IP Jungle: Lessons from the Past (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655748)

You don't seriously believe any of the crap you just wrote, did you?

Most modern operating systems concepts my ass.

How much in the way of operating systems theory have you been exposed to?

Legacy baggage? Pah. Microsloth is in the habit of borrowing those things from "Legacy O/S" after they've been deemed worthless or not worth protecting.

Look at what it got from Xerox Parc, Apple, OS/2 AND Unix. (And if you don't know what those items are, you should shut your trap and go find out before you try to pass off Microsoft as the Holy Grail of Technology).

The number of Microsoft failures and bugs and just plain poor design are legion.

Thinking otherwise, is just plain stupidity, ignorance or both and are equally dangerous.

Ugh.

I think I'm going to kick some pro-Micro-sloth-newbie-ass in a debate today....

Re:The Unix IP Jungle: Lessons from the Past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655753)

Obviously the countless suits, settled and unsettled, in the DOS/Windows arena don't count.

Re:The Unix IP Jungle: Lessons from the Past (0, Redundant)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655762)

blah

yes get my karma down i care less as i am right...

blah

Re:The Unix IP Jungle: Lessons from the Past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655834)

I don't know what's up with you windows-users, I recently upgraded my Windows XP Home to the latest version (v3.1), and it doesn't work at all well. I have received error messages about lack of primary memory (I have 256 MB in this machine), and I can't seem to make it work with anything over 8-bit color. Before, when I ran BSD I could get up to and including 24-bit color on this machine. I also found that multitasking was much faster on BSD.
The way I see it, Windows XP isn't yet ready for the desktop or server rooms.

moron cyphering the value of frivolous litigation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655663)

you don't even need remedial math to figure out how many fauxking felonious georgewellian billyonerrors it takes to destroy a planet/free commerce, etc..

back on task.

the lights are coming up. we're in crisis mode. you can help.

yOUR intentions/behaviours ARE relevant.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. get more oxygen on yOUR brains. vote with yOUR wallet. that's the spirit, moving you.

pay attention. that's affordable, & provides immesurable returns.

'invest' in yOUR community (possibly starting next door). be very careful of/thoughtful towards, each other. you're all we've got, here.

pay no heed to the greed/fear based misinformers. your well being is not on their agenda.

the current task remains planet/population rescue. yOUR intentions/behaviours are the recipe.

each harmed innocent carries with it a bad toll. the felons are NOT going to be the wons who must do the repairations. it is you/us.

SCO is committing seppuku (4, Interesting)

Turing Machine (144300) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655664)

It's hard to imagine ANY scenario under which SCO comes out a long-term winner on this. Maybe they thought IBM would buy them out to shut them up, but it's clear that they were dead wrong on that (anyone who's familiar with IBM's litigation history could'v e told them how unlikely that was... if IBM settled nuisance suits, they'd have them coming out of the woodwork).

It would be interesting to see the GPL tested in court, though.

/.'ed already? (1)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655667)


All I get on that page is "Object Required." Anyone mirror it? Whorepost the article text?

And, on topic: Doubt this is good for Linux, because even if everyone who is scared away from Linux hears that SCO lost and Linux was clean this whole time, they might stay away from it for fear that something like this might really happen in the future. Which brings up a good question: What steps can the Linux community take to actually prevent something like this from ever actually happening (assuming is hasn't already, and I dont' think it has)?

Re:/.'ed already? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655677)

That page doesn't seem to work with Netscape. If you look at the code, it has Javascript lifted from about five different sources.

Re:/.'ed already? (1)

thinkninja (606538) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655725)

Weird, worked fine in firebird.

Re:/.'ed already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655786)

Works fine here in Mozilla 1.4b too.

Here you go (4, Informative)

Omkar (618823) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655696)

Linux's lucky lawsuit

Wynn Quon
National Post

Saturday, August 09, 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.

Alarm bells are ringing throughout the open-source software world. SCO Group has filed suit against IBM, accusing it of illegally incorporating SCO's Unix code into the Linux operating system. Some analysts are predicting an onslaught of legal attacks that will kill Linux.

The alarm is overdone. While no one relishes the prospect of going to court, this lawsuit is actually a good thing for Linux in the long run.

The story behind the lawsuit goes like this: In 1995, SCO Group purchased the code for the Unix System V operating system from Novell. IBM has a contract with SCO to use this code as part of its own operating system, known as AIX. (An outside observer would be forgiven if he thought this lawsuit is all about a bunch of acronyms suing each other). SCO charges that IBM violated the contract and stole SCO's trade secrets by incorporating SCO software into the hugely popular Linux operating system. SCO claims a whopping US$3-billion in damages. Linux defenders accuse SCO of being a gold-digger, a two-bit player trying to exploit Linux's success for money.

At the centre of the lawsuit, Linux has its own interesting tale. Linux doesn't belong to any one company. Instead it was created through a fascinating process known as open-source development. A team of talented volunteer programmers led by Linus Torvalds collaborated over the Internet and built a stable, spiffy and very cheap operating system. In less than a decade it has become Microsoft's most dangerous rival. The operating system is now deployed on 14% of servers and its market share is growing at a torrid pace of 60% a year.

Four years ago, IBM recognized Linux's strength. It put 250 of its own engineers to work on it and integrated Linux into its products. The bet has paid off handsomely: In the fourth quarter alone, IBM shipped US$160-million worth of Linux servers.

And there lies the rub. Linux is now big business. It powers products for Dell and HP. It is finding its way (albeit at a slower pace) on to desktops and consumer electronics gear. Linux was born out of a warm and fuzzy let's-work-together idealism that is typical of all open-source projects. Today it finds itself front and centre in a world where market share projections and $800-an-hour litigation lawyers count for as much as spiffy code.

Software analysts worry that SCO's lawsuit will put the big chill on Linux development. This would be a bad thing, not least because it would leave Microsoft in a stronger position than ever. But there's another, more stout-hearted way of looking at it: SCO's legal action is the first harbinger of the corporate makeover of Linux. Open-source advocates are outraged at the audacity of the lawsuit. They should instead be thankful. Linux must inoculate itself against the nasty legal toxins that are endemic in the corporate environment. And if we were to perversely pick a poison, the SCO suit has a lot going for it. SCO is strong enough to provoke a strengthening of Linux's defences but not so strong that it poses any real danger.

What makes the SCO action the ideal first-time lawsuit for Linux is this: First, it is directed at IBM rather than directly at Linux customers. This means there is no immediate threat against the deployment and continuing use of Linux.

Second, the substance of SCO's claims appears weak. Eric Raymond, who heads the Open Source Initiative (OSI) advocacy group, has been a vocal debunker of SCO's charges. According to Raymond, it is unlikely there were trade secret transfers from SCO code to Linux. The codebase owned by SCO is an old and creaky one, a jalopy compared to the Formula One technology found in Linux. Furthermore, SCO itself had made its codebase freely available for public downloading, making its trade secret claim somewhat dubious.

Thirdly and perhaps most significantly, IBM is no pushover. It is no stranger to the court system, having successfully fought a decade-long antitrust suit with the government as well as countless intellectual property suits. It has a massive portfolio of patents for countersueing SCO. SCO on the other hand has had little support aside from a limp handshake from Microsoft in the form of a purchase agreement for a Unix licence. In the meantime, it hobbles along on a mere US$70-million in annual sales and has now earned the enmity of a large part of the software community. In the upcoming court battle, SCO is a toad facing a steamroller. IBM has already launched its counterattack, charging in a suit on Thursday that SCO is in violation of four IBM patents.

Despite SCO's dim prospects, there is no room for apathy. After filing suit against IBM, SCO went one step further. It sent letters to 1,500 large commercial users of Linux, warning them they could be liable for intellectual property violations. SCO claims code fragments in Linux are directly copied from the Unix codebase. Although no litigation is planned against Linux users, it raises the spectre of licensing fees.

Will it be able to enforce such demands? SCO's position is wobbly. For one thing, SCO was once itself a Linux developer. As such, the Linux licensing agreement that explicitly disallows such fees binds it. On top of that, the suspected code fragments have so far been trivial. Removing them would be easy for Linux programmers.

But wobbly or not, SCO is doing the Linux community a favour. The most valuable gift the SCO attack gives to the Linux community is time. While the legal battle plays out in the courts, the Linux community has a chance to gird itself for future conflict.

For a start, the Linux community should move quickly on the following issues:

- Anyone who packages Linux in their products should indemnify their customers from any intellectual property issues. This would remove a significant part of the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) factor that arises whenever lawsuits are launched. System suppliers would be leaving themselves open to legal attacks but the alternative, exposing the end user to such attacks, is the greater evil.

- Tighter copyright control is needed on Linux software. One of the great strengths of open-source programming is the reliance on reuse of software. Unfortunately, if the reused software is proprietary, this creates a grave problem. Linux designers should formally declare that any code they submit into the Linux code base is original work. Other copyright issues need examination as well. The copyright to Linux code is widely distributed among the programmers who have written the code. This raises interesting succession questions. If a Linux contributor were hit by a bus tomorrow, his or her copyright would be part of their estate and could potentially be inherited by antagonistic outsiders more interested in the fast buck than in community-based software. Similar succession issues surround Torvalds' ownership of the Linux trademark.

- Perhaps the most dangerous intellectual property issue is patents. While copyright violations can be swiftly remedied by rewriting the affected pieces of software, patent violations are a different matter. Patents cover algorithms, capabilities and features. If Linux were found to be in violation of a patent, it would either have to remove that particular feature (thus weakening the software) or agree to whatever licensing the patent owner requests. So far the Linux community has taken a passive stance toward patent rights. It is relying on the legal firepower of its corporate friends to shield it from attack. The more expensive alternative is to set up a stand-alone body that actively pursues patent protection for Linux. This has the advantage of helping Linux maintain a certain independence.

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

SCO... just another horrible thing to come from UT (2, Funny)

mvh (9295) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655670)

As a Utah native, this SCO fiasco is just one of a plethora of evil things which surround this evil place. Discrimination runs rampant here, stupid capitalism runs unchecked and worst of all, Mormonism is alive and well (with correlations between depression and suicide rates). Are all these evils coincidence or is Utah simply a den of iniquity? screw SCO and screw Utah. SCO's PR machine probably gets it's method from the LDS church's PR machine. What an evil, evil place. I need to move away.

LDS method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655761)

speaking of evils in Utah, i recently came across this article and found it very disturbing.

http://www.sltrib.com/2003/aug/08062003/utah/816 37 .asp

Rolly & Wells: Logan beer basher leaving town

By Paul Rolly and JoAnn Wells
Salt Lake Tribune Columnists

Logan residents lobbying for more liberal liquor laws probably will toast the resignation today of City Council member Karen Borg, who is leaving five months before her second term ends to move to Layton.
Borg became a symbol of the church-state blur in Logan four years ago when she fought a proposed ordinance to allow brew pubs and claimed her opponent, Gina Wickwar, favored brew pubs.
Wickwar, who bested Borg in the primary, was derailed when Borg's LDS stake president, Jay Monson, admonished his bishops to read a letter from the pulpit instructing congregations to defeat candidates who don't respect the Mormon view on alcohol consumption.
Two days before the election, Wickwar got the fatal kiss of death in the nonpartisan race when local Republican leaders labeled her a Democrat.
Borg's replacement will be picked by the four remaining council members, who are split on the still unpassed brew-pub issue. Wickwar, who still has a bad taste in her mouth about Logan politics, does not plan to apply.
The Mailman still delivers: For those who haven't forgiven Karl Malone for swapping a Jazz jersey for a Lakers uniform, consider this:
Malone was in Cedar City recently and stopped at a Subway sandwich store. He got into a conversation with sandwich maker Justin Hignite, 17, who was lamenting that his truck had broken down and he had no money to fix it.
After Malone got his sandwich and prepared to leave, he gave Hignite a $500 tip.

Try pixie dust: Rosewood Lane in Layton has been closed to through traffic because of construction this summer, but construction crews have accommodated those who live on the street by building wooden ramps so they can enter their driveways.
Last Wednesday evening, after the construction crews had gone home, Jason Anderton, who lives on Rosewood Lane, was entering his driveway when he discovered he was being followed by a Layton police car. He was given a ticket for driving on a closed road. When he called the Layton Police Department and asked how he was supposed to get home, he says a sergeant hung up on him.

Start out small: Pat Shea, former state Democratic chairman, Democratic national committeeman and director of the Bureau of Land Management during the Clinton administration, could not get elected to public office in Utah, being a Democrat and all. He unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1992 and the U.S. Senate in 1994.
But Bill Nicholes, a crusty old volunteer for Shea's campaigns after retiring from a 37-year career with AT&T, did something recently that his younger political mentor could not do. He won an election.
Nicholes is the new mayor of Mesquite, Nev., a community he describes as "a political extension of St. George, which means it is ultraconservative." Nicholes moved to the desert gambling oasis after the Shea campaigns and says he has been more successful moderating the town than his fellow Democrats have been in Utah.

Attracting attention: Gary Sneed of Salt Lake City was a bit awed recently when he received license plates for his new car from the state Department Motor Vehicles.
The plates read: "911 WTC."
_________

Paul Rolly and JoAnn Wells welcome e-mail at rolly&wells@sltrib.com.

Mod Parent down -1 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655816)

SCO = Utah = Mormonism = Evil?

Nice.

How about Ximian = Boston = Catholicism = Child Molestor? Or maybe IBM = New York = Jew = Baby Eater?

This is VERY ugly language, and very ugly ideas. That you posess them and spew them and put them forth as the correct perspective is abhorent.

And BTW, I lived in Utah for a number of years. Your perceptions and bigotry are skewed. The Mormons, as a whole, are a nice people. This SCO group, on the other hand....

Bad news... (3, Funny)

John3 (85454) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655676)

In the short term the lawsuit is bad news. What company is going to roll-out an operating system when there is a lawsuit hanging over it?

Oh wait, are we talking about Windows?

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It cuts both ways (1, Insightful)

sisukapalli1 (471175) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655683)

It is mostly how people handle it... For instance, someone like M$FT may say, "See, what if another SCO comes out with a law suit", and the linux folks can say, "Yes, exactly, last time such scum came at us, we trashed it, this is also another such scum supported by the likes of M$FT and SUNW".

In the end, people usually believe what they want to believe. Facts usually don't affect the clarity of wishes and illusions :)

S

ObSimpsons (2, Funny)

Feztaa (633745) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655718)

Homer: "Lisa, facts don't mean anything! You can use them to prove anything that's even remotely true!"

Re:It cuts both ways (1)

Admiral Burrito (11807) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655839)

For instance, someone like M$FT may say, "See, what if another SCO comes out with a law suit"

Intellectual property[*] issues are not unique to open source. SCO could have just as easily claimed that Windows contains SCO-owned code, and put forth as much evidence as they have publicly in the Linux (which is none).

[*] I hate that term. Property is something you own, it is yours until you choose to give it up. IP on the other hand is just a temporary exclusive right that goes away after a while (patent, copyright) or when the owner fails to properly defend it (trademark, trade secret). "Intellectual lease"?

I concur... (5, Insightful)

ruebarb (114845) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655688)

Like it or not, the courts have become the whipping boy for corporations....locking up development for years in the pharmeticul community, bullying individuals who can't afford a legal defense to pull down websites or stop distributing items that are legal... - One needs look no further then Scientology to see what a large organization with lots of money and no shame in suing/litigating their desires into existance. They even forced Slashdot to pull posts off it's server under the "threat" of action to see the courts are the big stick in today's society.

Linux is gonna have to be able to stand up to these guys if it's going to make further inroads into the corporate environment. Better that it start now, with an ally like IBM. What if they had gone after some real poor Linux distro manufacturer who would have had to cave under financial demands? - There would then be legal precedent for their claims...

Nope, I honestly think this is a ploy by the Executives of SCO to inflate stock price a bit so they are selling at $10 instead of .68 cents a share, but it's a legitmate threat, and I'm glad we're starting here. Once we've established the validity of the GNU/Open Source License, no lawsuit like this will have any teeth again.

Inoculation for Linux? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655691)

"What makes the SCO action the ideal first-time lawsuit for Linux is this: First, it is directed at IBM rather than directly at Linux customers. This means there is no immediate threat against the deployment and continuing use of Linux."

Then the $699 USD SCO is extorting from the users must be the co-pay. I love HMO's

Liunx success in mainstream media (5, Insightful)

ciebie (11303) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655694)

Since SCO vs IBM lawsuit every newspaper I read had at least one story about Linux. My friends ask me if Linux is really worth over $1000? And I answer yes :) If you don't call it success than what?

Re:Liunx success in mainstream media (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655716)

OTOH the multimedia project I am working on I was grooming for Linux and when this story broke the PHBs got cold feet and XP'd the idea.

Too Bad The Site Uses IIS (0, Redundant)

blazerw11 (68928) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655701)

Only 10 viewers at a time and if you go over that, BOOM!!

The story's page gives me the typically descriptive MS Error: Object Required.
Sci and Tech home gives me: Out of storage space.

Probably admin's fault, but I'd rather blame MS.

Warm & Fuzzy? (4, Funny)

ReciprocityProject (668218) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655702)

Linux was born out of a warm and fuzzy let's-work-together idealism that is typical of all open-source projects.

What about the hot and bothered let's-rip-his-spine-out-of-his-back and beat-him-with-it rage that is typical of all open-source developers when some -1 troll makes a kind comment about [insert closed-source platform here]?

Speaking as an open source developer, of course.

Lighting Strikes.. (4, Insightful)

CashCarSTAR (548853) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655703)

Not a good or a positive article.

I'll admit. I read through the first half, and it had the facts pretty much on. I thought..wow. A good article coming from the National Post. One of the biggest rags in the western world.

But then the second half..

FUD FUD FUD.

It raises the spectere of FUD about Linux and GPL in particular. Stating that Linux distrubitors need to cover companies over potential copyright violations (none is needed).

As well, it completely misrepresents the GPL. Giving the absurd idea that somehow a future copyright holder could revoke their code, throwing everything into a huge legal battle yet again.

The funny thing is that it actually mentions FUD in spreading FUD..teehee..*sigh*..

Lightning does not strike even once for the National Rag.

Not good (2, Interesting)

henrygb (668225) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655704)

Anyone who packages Linux in their products should indemnify their customers from any intellectual property issues

This rather defeats the point of Open Source/Free Software, i.e. adapting the work of others and passing it on. I would be surprised if any insurance company would cover the risk, especially with an ongoing lawsuit and associated FUD.

from a marketing view (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655705)

bad news are good news too

New Era? (1)

Izago909 (637084) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655713)

This may be a bit presumptuous, but IBM hardly seems like the evil empire it once was. This doesn't seem to be the same giant that tried to throw its weight around with the MCA bus. If anything, recent history shows that it will at least be considered the lesser of the two evils.

Re:New Era? (2, Interesting)

xyvimur (268026) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655739)

For sure not. ``Corporations are Evil''. They are adapting to the situation very quickly to make profits - either short or long term. For example from some point of view SCO strategy was very risky short term strategy. While IBM has other plans. Who knows? In this game players change sides very often...

Tighter Copyright Control (1)

Munson Man (595181) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655717)

After reading the said article I have to disagree with the author when he states that Linux should have tighter copyright control to avoid future lawsuits. The fact that linux is open is it's main asset!

don't think so... (2, Insightful)

pb9494 (550141) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655721)

as the OS moves from a hobbyist platform to a real business tool.
Could someone explain this author that Linux is professional for something like 10 years and is widely used as a web server platform ?

I agree particularly on the inoculation part... (2, Insightful)

strAtEdgE (151030) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655726)

For a long time now we've been hearing "this might be a good test for the GPL", "xyz organization could hold them accountable for violations of the GPL", etc. Well now, finally, IBM is going to test the real meat of the GPL [cbronline.com] . Really, it's been a coming for a while, I'm surprised it's taken so long. But this will be good, because the longer it waits, the bigger the stakes get, and I'm afraid they're getting a bit too big already.

I wish something like this would have happened a couple years ago... before I started running 5 Linux servers at work that I now can't do without.

Not quite right (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655731)

He basically implies that IBM did put SCO code into Linux. In reality, IBM put code into Linux that IBM/sequent had created and then contributed to Unix.
The real problem is wether IBM turned over all rights to that code to Unix at that time. This is a contract dispute with SCO, not a patent/copyright issue. Unfortunatly, SCO is trying to make it something that it is not.

morons shopping at the dollar store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655733)

don't be confused. after you get through the 'stigma', you'll find that you get equal stuff, & get to have some money left over. the name is misleading anymore anyway. most of them have gobs of stuff for up to $10.00. make your purchases locally (not just the dollar store), when you can/it represents fair value.

about a 30% drop in the cost of many things. just a thought.

we've also reduced the # of softwar liesense contracts we pay to $0.00. that helps, a lot.

...But it bears repeating... (5, Informative)

Lord Custos (518206) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655736)

I posted this at the tail end of a very long SCO thread, but it definitely bears repeating. (Since No-one will ever read post #1765 of a 7 page thread....)

A bit of op-ed/interesting facts from Netcraft.com...

Two months ago SCO sent letters to 1500 of the largest companies globally warning them of risks involved in running Linux. Although SCO did not make the identities of these companies public, Chris Sontag described the list as "the Fortune 500 and effectively the global 2000. It ended up being about 1,500 top international companies". This makes it likely that the list of companies that received letters from SCO will be quite similar to the list of sites we use to study enterprises' web site technology choices.

At the time many analysts speculated that SCO's behaviour might deter enterprise companies from using Linux. However, this has not happened to date, at least in respect of their internet visible web sites. In the last two months Linux has made a net gain of over 100 enterprise sites; sites which have migrated to Linux including Royal Sun Alliance, Deutsche Bank, SunGard,T-online and most noteworthy, Schwab.

It may well be that although SCO has generated an enormous amount of attention from the media and the Linux evangelists, it does not presently have the attention of IT practitioners in large companies.


SCO Who?
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Yes it's a good thing (5, Insightful)

Rysc (136391) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655737)

...but only if we win.

This is it, it's the long-awaited test of the GPL in court. SCO isn't backing down, and IBM isn't forcibly backing them down. The GPL, before this case is over, will have been tested in court, and that is absolutely good... if we win. If the GPL is not upheld in court then this is very, very bad. Since none of us know for sure how it will go, this whole suit is very potentially-good.

But, c'mon, this is IBM here. If anyone can win a court battle, it's IBM.

One way or another we'll know whether the GPL is valid by, say, 2008.

What Steve Jobs thinks of SCO lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655745)

"When I heard about it, I shit my pants'

It sure looks to me like it leans this way (-1)

Mayak (688458) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655746)

Good analysis! Good analysis!

no, no, oh me! oh me!

Unwarranted optimism! Unwarranted optimism!

um, no, Good analysis!

pick me! pick me! I say Unwarranted optimism!

whatever.

We have to wait (1)

gunix (547717) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655750)

and see what will happen. Then we can say it was good, status que, or if we should start an underground resistanse movement :-)

Article text. (0, Redundant)

mschoolbus (627182) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655760)

Linux's lucky lawsuit

Wynn Quon National Post

Saturday, August 09, 2003 ADVERTISEMENT



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

Alarm bells are ringing throughout the open-source software world. SCO Group has filed suit against IBM, accusing it of illegally incorporating SCO's Unix code into the Linux operating system. Some analysts are predicting an onslaught of legal attacks that will kill Linux.

The alarm is overdone. While no one relishes the prospect of going to court, this lawsuit is actually a good thing for Linux in the long run.

The story behind the lawsuit goes like this: In 1995, SCO Group purchased the code for the Unix System V operating system from Novell. IBM has a contract with SCO to use this code as part of its own operating system, known as AIX. (An outside observer would be forgiven if he thought this lawsuit is all about a bunch of acronyms suing each other). SCO charges that IBM violated the contract and stole SCO's trade secrets by incorporating SCO software into the hugely popular Linux operating system. SCO claims a whopping US$3-billion in damages. Linux defenders accuse SCO of being a gold-digger, a two-bit player trying to exploit Linux's success for money.

At the centre of the lawsuit, Linux has its own interesting tale. Linux doesn't belong to any one company. Instead it was created through a fascinating process known as open-source development. A team of talented volunteer programmers led by Linus Torvalds collaborated over the Internet and built a stable, spiffy and very cheap operating system. In less than a decade it has become Microsoft's most dangerous rival. The operating system is now deployed on 14% of servers and its market share is growing at a torrid pace of 60% a year.

Four years ago, IBM recognized Linux's strength. It put 250 of its own engineers to work on it and integrated Linux into its products. The bet has paid off handsomely: In the fourth quarter alone, IBM shipped US$160-million worth of Linux servers.

And there lies the rub. Linux is now big business. It powers products for Dell and HP. It is finding its way (albeit at a slower pace) on to desktops and consumer electronics gear. Linux was born out of a warm and fuzzy let's-work-together idealism that is typical of all open-source projects. Today it finds itself front and centre in a world where market share projections and $800-an-hour litigation lawyers count for as much as spiffy code.

Software analysts worry that SCO's lawsuit will put the big chill on Linux development. This would be a bad thing, not least because it would leave Microsoft in a stronger position than ever. But there's another, more stout-hearted way of looking at it: SCO's legal action is the first harbinger of the corporate makeover of Linux. Open-source advocates are outraged at the audacity of the lawsuit. They should instead be thankful. Linux must inoculate itself against the nasty legal toxins that are endemic in the corporate environment. And if we were to perversely pick a poison, the SCO suit has a lot going for it. SCO is strong enough to provoke a strengthening of Linux's defences but not so strong that it poses any real danger.

What makes the SCO action the ideal first-time lawsuit for Linux is this: First, it is directed at IBM rather than directly at Linux customers. This means there is no immediate threat against the deployment and continuing use of Linux.

Second, the substance of SCO's claims appears weak. Eric Raymond, who heads the Open Source Initiative (OSI) advocacy group, has been a vocal debunker of SCO's charges. According to Raymond, it is unlikely there were trade secret transfers from SCO code to Linux. The codebase owned by SCO is an old and creaky one, a jalopy compared to the Formula One technology found in Linux. Furthermore, SCO itself had made its codebase freely available for public downloading, making its trade secret claim somewhat dubious.

Thirdly and perhaps most significantly, IBM is no pushover. It is no stranger to the court system, having successfully fought a decade-long antitrust suit with the government as well as countless intellectual property suits. It has a massive portfolio of patents for countersueing SCO. SCO on the other hand has had little support aside from a limp handshake from Microsoft in the form of a purchase agreement for a Unix licence. In the meantime, it hobbles along on a mere US$70-million in annual sales and has now earned the enmity of a large part of the software community. In the upcoming court battle, SCO is a toad facing a steamroller. IBM has already launched its counterattack, charging in a suit on Thursday that SCO is in violation of four IBM patents.

Despite SCO's dim prospects, there is no room for apathy. After filing suit against IBM, SCO went one step further. It sent letters to 1,500 large commercial users of Linux, warning them they could be liable for intellectual property violations. SCO claims code fragments in Linux are directly copied from the Unix codebase. Although no litigation is planned against Linux users, it raises the spectre of licensing fees.

Will it be able to enforce such demands? SCO's position is wobbly. For one thing, SCO was once itself a Linux developer. As such, the Linux licensing agreement that explicitly disallows such fees binds it. On top of that, the suspected code fragments have so far been trivial. Removing them would be easy for Linux programmers.

But wobbly or not, SCO is doing the Linux community a favour. The most valuable gift the SCO attack gives to the Linux community is time. While the legal battle plays out in the courts, the Linux community has a chance to gird itself for future conflict.

For a start, the Linux community should move quickly on the following issues:

- Anyone who packages Linux in their products should indemnify their customers from any intellectual property issues. This would remove a significant part of the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) factor that arises whenever lawsuits are launched. System suppliers would be leaving themselves open to legal attacks but the alternative, exposing the end user to such attacks, is the greater evil.

- Tighter copyright control is needed on Linux software. One of the great strengths of open-source programming is the reliance on reuse of software. Unfortunately, if the reused software is proprietary, this creates a grave problem. Linux designers should formally declare that any code they submit into the Linux code base is original work. Other copyright issues need examination as well. The copyright to Linux code is widely distributed among the programmers who have written the code. This raises interesting succession questions. If a Linux contributor were hit by a bus tomorrow, his or her copyright would be part of their estate and could potentially be inherited by antagonistic outsiders more interested in the fast buck than in community-based software. Similar succession issues surround Torvalds' ownership of the Linux trademark.

- Perhaps the most dangerous intellectual property issue is patents. While copyright violations can be swiftly remedied by rewriting the affected pieces of software, patent violations are a different matter. Patents cover algorithms, capabilities and features. If Linux were found to be in violation of a patent, it would either have to remove that particular feature (thus weakening the software) or agree to whatever licensing the patent owner requests. So far the Linux community has taken a passive stance toward patent rights. It is relying on the legal firepower of its corporate friends to shield it from attack. The more expensive alternative is to set up a stand-alone body that actively pursues patent protection for Linux. This has the advantage of helping Linux maintain a certain independence.

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.

Wynn Quon is chief technology analyst at Legado Associates. wynn_quon@legadoassociates.com

Something has been lost, regardless of who wins (5, Insightful)

pjack76 (682382) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655770)

Even in the likely event that SCO is trampled into obliteration, something important has changed, and changed for the worse.

I agree with the author's assessment that this is just the first of many attacks. We will be forever defending Linux and Open Source from the individuals and corporations who want to own and control everything.

It will probably become more difficult for Joe Coder to just submit a patch to fix a bug. At worst, a lengthy background check will become required to verify that he hasn't worked on something similar for a corporation. At best, he'll have to complete some paperwork before he gains committer status.

These kinds of steps will help tone down the endless parade of future lawsuits that await us, but they will have an impact on the culture of open source, if you can call it that. We can't be innocent volunteers trying to help out anymore; open source processes will have to evolve to more closely match their corporate counterparts. Expect accountability and responsibilty to become new buzzwords, and expect the sort of back-stabbing politics that come with that kind of corporate climate.

There will be an impact on the meritocracy so often praised -- your work may be rejected for reasons having nothing to do with its merit. Or from another point of view, part of the measurement of your work's merit will be your ability to prove that it's original. "My patch doesn't fix the bug as elegantly, but you used to work for Company X, who developed a similar system five years ago, so we really can't accept your work."

I'm probably too much of a pessimist. But it seems that regardless of the outcome of the whole SCO mess, something will be lost. Maybe nothing terribly vital, but something.

SCO's lawyers are (3, Insightful)

flafish (305068) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655771)

just doing what the bosses are telling them what they want them to do. The fact that the lawyers may not understand how a line of code got into an OS is not the lawyer's worry. They must do as the client wishes if they wish to get paid. When the case gets to court, it will show how good/bad the GPL is. The article's point being that it would be a good idea for to pay more attention to how code is reused and where it comes from is well taken.

The fact that Linux installs went up instead of down after SCO started making noise indicates that most people/companies don't think SCO has a snowball chance in h... and that the GPL will stand the court test.

Re:OH MY GOD! (-1, Flamebait)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655829)

You almost said the H-Word!!! Better be careful, you dont want something like that to slip out, or else DIE YOU FUCKING PEICE OF SHIT, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? IS YOUR BRAIN SOMEHOW JUST COMPLETELY FUCKING BROKEN? The rest of your post indicates that your "e" and "l" keys are working just fine, so my incredible scientific analysis reaches the undeniable conclusion that you should go run out on a busy highway, ie: DIE, YOU FUCKING MORON. THE INTERNET DOESNT NEED OR WANT YOUR FUCKING ELIPSIS.

Alert: Conspiracy Theory!! (5, Funny)

borg (95568) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655777)

Hey, has it crossed anyone's mind that maybe IBM is bankrolling SCO's linux suit?

Ok, it's a but far fetched. But the more I think about it, the more diabolically plausible it seems:

  1. What kind of moron would lead their puny little tech company into direct confrontation with the IBM behemoth? Counterargument: morons do exist.
  2. GPL uncertainties are being exploited by the old guard proprietary software companies (read: Microsoft)
  3. Every one in the linux camp has been looking for a GPL test case

What if some Machivellian genius at IBM is orchestrating this? Every day SCO seems more and more like some absurd character from an anti-capitalist farce. What a beautiful test case. They are absolutely unsympathetic as an antagonist. IBM has a flawless legal department. This has none of the ambiguity of the 2600 or Jon cases. How much did IBM spend painting "peace, love, linux" through NYC? How much would it take to buy of a couple of smarmy executives from a failing tech company? (or maybe it was the threat of releasing those compromising pics from the latest NAMBLA rally?)

And Boies? Maybe he's still sore at Microsoft for the de facto loss in the anti-trust case. Maybe he's deep cover for the penguinistas, out for blood in a scorched earth campaign against the Redmond giant.

Think on this: IBM didn't have to include a mention of the GPL in their counter suit. There's enough of an argument in the rest of the brief to shut SCO up and shut them down. The GPL could conceivable hurt IBM in the future if they want to pull shennanigans with the linux codebase in the future. This GPL mention has the potential of being and incredible gift to the community.

Ok. I'll go re-fold my tinfoil hat. 20 years from now when the truth comes out, remember you heard it from me first.

Why is "business" so important? (2, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655796)

Linux was born and has grown up out of a desire for und users, like us, to have another choice for a fast, stable and feature filled OS.

When businesses begin to see linux as a source of revenue is when they will take steps to protect their slice of the pie.

I ask you this, what if MS developed a version of linux and added a closed source kernel driver that would be required to run MS Office for linux?

This would be completely legal, businesses would be interested in running the MS linux because of the mountains of free software out there plus 100% compatibility with MS Office.

The "business" market taking a serious interest in linux will only be bad in the long run.

LK

Take warning from BSD's experience (1, Insightful)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655797)

It's been pointed out often but it bears repeating: BSD won their lawsuit too, for all the good it did them. All it takes is one or two quarters of businesses' holding off on a Linux migration and we'll end up like BSD: a bunch of hobbyists and cranks who do great stuff but never get to take it anywhere.

Re:Take warning from BSD's experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655824)

we'll end up like BSD: a bunch of hobbyists and cranks who do great stuff but never get to take it anywhere.

Like Windows or OS X?

moron greed/fear based bullshipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655805)

how gooed could it be?

get rid of those 8 cyl. things. even if they hang linus, you'll still be responsible for yOUR roll in the oil for babies program, etc..

don't worry about linux, our site traffic has gone from 2% gnu os/browsers, to around 20%, in just a few months, since the whoreabull motives of the georgewellian payper liesense softwar felons has been known. add to that the lack of trustworthycomputing.com(monsense) in the infactdead BugWear(tm) distributed buy the Godless kingdumb, & its naykid furor & you've got yourself a paradigm, or something like that.

back on task.

pay attention, the returns/good feelings are astounding.

What worries me is.... (4, Funny)

Chris_Mir (679740) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655807)

what will become of Slashdot, when all this is over? Would it survive 50% less articles? And what about all the readers, who have to go to the psychiatrist.
I mean, this is addictive stuff, dude! I dont wanna go cold turkey! :p

well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6655817)

We can't change what's happened. There's a lawsuit whether we like it or not. BUT ... The lawsuits are drawing a lot of attention to Linux (hey, even my computer-unsavy mom asked me about it the other day). I think that this could end up being really positive feedback for Linux should IBM/Novell/RedHat/etc. emerge victorious.

Of course, it could also set Linux back quite a lot in terms of corporate acceptance should SCO win.

suing Brittanica (5, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655835)

Many years ago, I wrote a little blurb about this one topic (to remain confidential), and published it on my web page, complete with copyright notice. It sat there neglected for a while, and eventually I took the page down.

Very recently, however, I discovered Encyclopedia Brittanica used my blurb for their entry on the subject. They stole my intellectual property.

I am hereby announcing my forthcoming lawsuit against Encyclopedia Brittanica. I am looking to enjoin them from distributing any further copies, either in paper or electronic form. I will also be seeking royalty payments from anyone owning a copy produced since 2001. And no, I will not disclose which entry it is they stole, since I do not anyone reprinting it even as a news article.

* * * * * * *

Yes, the above is fiction. It was written to illustrate how stupid SCO is being. Why no judge has forced them to disclose said infringing code is beyond me. Frankly, since if the code were disclosed it would be removed, it seems like they are ENCOURAGING further infringement, which I would take as their not defending their copyright adequately.

It's About Time (3, Insightful)

gtshafted (580114) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655838)

This is exactly the kind of article that Linux needs. This isn't just another article that only appeals mainly to the technical inclined... This article talks to public at large in layman's terms, something pointy haired business executives (and other non-techies who actually make decisions at large organizations) can understand.

no. bad premise (1)

samantha (68231) | more than 10 years ago | (#6655840)

The article has a subtextual premise that the corporate IP game is either legitimate or the only game possible. Its point is predicated on the idea that Linux in order to be and remain strong must play this game by the assumed cast in stone rules. But Linux and Free Software/Open Source in general is about stepping outside of this IP game and freely sharing knowledge, code, algorithms and so on. That is what has made it so powerful and such a beautiful alternative. To now turn around and supposedly "make it stronger" by throwing out or mitigating the very source of its strength would be a fatal error.

The author of this piece obviously does not get it. That is to be expected when apparently all too many of us don't get it either.

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