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Reader Feedback Special on James Turner's 'Is SCO Bad Not Just for Linux, But Also for America?'

Reader Feedback Special on James Turner's 'Is SCO Bad Not Just for Linux, But Also for America?'

LinuxWorld Magazine senior editor James Turner fluttered the dovecotes just a tad this week when he wrote an opinion piece here on in which he detailed six reasons why he was “enraged” by the SCO Group’s latest actions in their campaign to derive revenue from their ownership of the various Unix / UnixWare patents they purchased from Novell when SCO was still called Caldera.

Here’s a round-up of some of the most energetic and insightful feedback. . .

Turner’s piece ended with a call to action. That resonated well with Don Whitbeck, who writes: “It appears to me that SCO is trying to hijack something that does not belong to them. Perhaps they could be sued for violating the GPL. I for one would be willing to contribute a little money towards that end.”

Dennis Perkins agrees. “They [SCO] are attempting to steal more than the Linux kernel,” he writes. “They are not releasing source code to the GNU project software, XFree86, KDE, Gnome, etc. They are attempting to hijack the whole Open Source/Free Software movement.” But Ron Norman isn’t so worried. “SCO cannot stop the momentum of Linux,” he asserts. “SCO's weakness is they are afraid of showing anyone the offending code. This is why they have the restrictive NDA. When the trial starts, they will have to show the code; Linux developers will rewrite the offending code and release new distributions. Long live Linux!”

Turner’s assertion that "Linux (in spite of its Scandinavian origins) is a profoundly American idea" drew some flak.

“While I support Linux (of course) and all the outrage against SCO I have to disagree with some statements,” writes kernelPanic. “Linux is NOT an American idea. It may be an idea very popular in America but it is a Scandinavian idea. Many Americans adopted Linux as theirs and offered a profound contribution to the OS. What's American in the present status quo is the lawsuits against Linux. Also, Microsoft is a profoundly American idea.”

Bret agrees GNU/Linux is an international effort, adding “but it's true that the ideals here are *also* American ideals, and I read the article as pointing that out in order to head off attacks that cry "socialism" (there have been some). I think [Turner] is just setting the record straight, and I agree with him.”

The crux of the debate remains the issue of whether SCO have a claim or not. “I still can't see that SCO have a valid claim,” writes Richard Corfield. “All they've managed to ‘prove’ so far is that there is some common code in their version of UNIX and Linux, perhaps 10s of lines, but as both contain code from the original BSD UNIX, that proves nothing. The BSD license has already been defended in court. SCO can have no claim over that code.”

“Then there's the bit about Enterprise Technologies that IBM supposedly stole,” Cornfield continues. “The argument as I understand it is that IBM developed some technology which they used in both their commercial UNIX, AIX, and in Linux. Apparently SCO believes that that makes the IBM technology theirs and that IBM therefore stole it when they used it in Linux as well. Add to that SCO seems to believe that IBM using IBM's own code in Linux gives SCO ownership of Linux and it just seems a farce. IBM has no more right to sign away rights to Linux than I do, no matter what the SCO/IBM license says.”

“UNIX has been around longer than the currently longest standing patents (14 years by definition), and longer than the US has had this mad idea of patenting abstract concepts and ideas. This just doesn't wash,” concludes Corfield.

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Most Recent Comments
Riccardo Stout 07/30/03 07:42:10 AM EDT

What are the implications outside the US if SCO prevails? Does SCO's alleged rights have any legal standing in other countries? Will India, China, the rest of Asia, etc. (possibly the EU as well!) continue to develop Linux, leaving US citizens as "Prisoners of Microsoft" (in my opinion the hand inside the SCO sock puppet), while the rest of the word develops a robust software economy and leaves the US in the dust? In other words, will the SCO lawsuit be seen someday as the beginning of the end for US technological hegemony? Lots of questions that need answering, but which I haven't seen addressed anywhere. In all the endless writing about the SCO lawsuit -- and actually in writing in general about Linux save Rob Miller -- you'd never know there was this huge world out there that in not beholden to Microsoft, SCO etc. and are using Linux to begin to create computer infrastructures of their own. The world is more than just the US.

Glenn Thigpen 07/28/03 07:34:42 PM EDT

Tyler Jensen commented:

"It is true that SCO has offered no public proof of their claims. Though they have shown their evidence to a few consultants who have without exception agreed that SCO has a legitimate claim, you won't see any public evidence unless the SCO executives ignore the advice of counsel. SCO lawyers have undoubtedly issued a gag order upon their clients. This is a standard tactic in a lawsuit where your evidence will only serve to enrage an already upset public Linux community."

Bill Claybrook of the Aberdeen Group does not agree with him, for one.
And SCO has repeatedly said that their lawsuit is not about copyright infringement or copyrights. It is about breach of contract.

Tyler Jensen commented again:
"The most important point to understand," Jensen concludes, "is the SCO legal team itself. High powered lawsuits are like professional sports: the best free agents only play for the winning teams. And SCO has one of the best: David Boies, the guy the Justice Department hired to bend Microsoft to their will. This guy does not take a case unless he believes there is a very good chance of winning."

David Boies did okay in the DOJ suit against Microsoft. But Microsoft di itself in there more than Boies's brilliance.
Boies did not fare so well in the Florida endless recounting suit.
But it will all come down to who is better in front of a jury, IBM's lawyers or SCO's lawyersm not on the technical merits of the case.


Steven Berkowitz 07/25/03 10:38:37 AM EDT

Tyler Jensen is "betting SCO is holding Jacks over Deuces. These guys are just not the bluffing type."

That's as may be, but if we're going to poker for analogies, I'm gonna suggest that SCO is holding Aces and Eights (aka Dead Man's Hand). They might walk away from the table with the pot, but watch 'em get hit by a truck on the way to the bank.

Steven Berkowitz
Industry News Editor
LinuxWorld Magazine