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Is SCO Perfecting the Art of the Big Lie?

Is SCO Perfecting the Art of the Big Lie?

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it," said Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Hitler's Minister of Propaganda. I would take the position that out in Utah, SCO is taking this "Big Lie" strategy into the computer age.

Take for example their August 11th press release touting the first Fortune 500 company to sign on with their $700/CPU
extortion-program-masquerading-as-a-license-fee.  Conveniently left out of the release are:

  • Who the company was (conveniently citing a confidentiality agreement).
    Are they afraid that the company would be the subject of massive
    protests and attacks?  Or maybe that the company's stock would fall,
    given how boneheaded it would be to pay anyone $700/CPU for a piece of
    free software?
  • How many licenses were bought?  Maybe this company only has a single
    CPU running Linux.  Maybe they have 1,000.  How can we judge the
    significance of the deal without this detail?
  • How much the company paid.  Did SCO offer the company a $1
    company-wide license to garner the publicity value of scoring a Fortune
    500 firm?  Who knows?

Add into this the factor that the SCO license only covers running their own binary-only version of Linux.  What's the likelihood that any company with a major investment in Linux technology could cut over in any short timeframe to a new Linux release running on hardware that might not even be compatible with the SCO binary?

All this leaves me wondering if such a company exists at all, or if this is just another in the collection of "We'd tell you, but then we'd have to kill you" statements issued by SCO.  As others have remarked, the moment SCO starts laying facts on the table is the moment that their case starts to fall apart.  The odor of "pump and dump" stock manipulation hangs in the air, and unless SCO starts to make good on some of their claims, the only people who are going to end up taking them seriously are the SEC.

Maybe they should hire the former Iraqi information minister. "Thousands of companies have bought our licenses!  I will show you the list this afternoon! The blood of the open source infidels will run through the streets of Salt Lake!"  Comical Ali understood the value of the Big Lie too.

More Stories By James Turner

James Turner is president of Black Bear Software. James was formerly senior editor of and has also written for Wired, Christian Science Monitor, and other publications. He is currently working on his third book on open source development.

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Most Recent Comments
Doc 10/06/03 10:55:33 PM EDT

Why can't the linux community all look up SCO's 1-800 numbers and call them up non-stop? Every call costs money, right?

Tim Rentsch 09/05/03 06:31:57 PM EDT

A Fortune 500 company - how about Microsoft? There
was a non-disclosure agreement because Microsoft doesn't
want anyone to know that they are running Linux. :)

chitta mylvaganam 09/03/03 11:29:34 AM EDT

This whole SCO story re it's UNIX and LINUX rights seems to stink!. It is too complex for me to get a detailed grasp of, but in simple terms I understand it thus:

Once upon a time made and AT&T owned UNIX. Then it sold UNIX to several (two?) parties who went ahead and developed their own versions. I believe BSD is one of these. Apparently from what I am reading now, SCO's was the other, and today's SCO is only an inheritor of an earlier incarnation, and the earlier SCO was not even in existence when AT&T, still the owner of UNIX licensed its use to IBM, who promply went ahead and developed their own AIX flavour and their own hardware (RISC 6000) for it.

Probably IBM's lawyers never used the eyes in the backs of their heads to know that someone in the distant future would pull the carpet from under their feet - ie; that the owner of UNIX who gave them their license would sell its ownership to another party without clarifying or notifying (my assumption) the future rights of its licensees.

So IBM gets screwed for not watching over its shoulder. Also, as some others have suggested, is their an evil Ming (remember Flash Gordon) instigating this dirty game, and watching the fight from behind a curtain? I think everybody knows the Ming Empire. Empires are not eternal.

A Smith 08/29/03 02:58:11 PM EDT

Doubts about SCO DoS attack claim

Reviewing a NetCraft graph of reveals that their periods of downtime seem to be as regular as clockwork. That sure would be a surprising pattern for a DoS attack!

Further doubts arise about whether there was a DoS attack, because at least three times SCO employees seemed to say that there wasn't one.

chrismac 08/28/03 02:45:02 PM EDT

I think the Author is confused about the SCO binary license.

"Add into this the factor that the SCO license only covers running their own binary-only version of Linux."

They are issueing a license for a binary run-time format. They are not providing any software or version of Linux.

Juls 08/28/03 10:21:27 AM EDT

I think the Company that signed the licensing agreement was none other than Microsoft, remember that they just got a lab full of Open Source products to test them as to how they compare against Microsoft products. I would be a good way for them to increase the fear around Linux

javateddy 08/27/03 07:24:52 PM EDT

good article.
I think Sco'lawsuit is the first thing MS did to beat the linux. Maybe have second,third,let me see that.