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SCO Attempts to Have GPL Declared Void

"The GPL violates the US Constitution, together with copyright, antitrust and export control laws," it claims

It may never have been tested before in court, but its day has certainly arrived now: the GPL is about to make its first appearance under the full scrutiny of the US legal system - thanks to an answer by the SCO Group to an IBM court filing that SCO in turn filed at the end of last week.

"The GPL violates the US Constitution," SCO claims, "together with copyright, antitrust and export control laws."

No small charges.

As often in this pre-trial phase, SCO did not see fit to offer any actual details backing up its assertions. But the general thrust of its argument appears to be that under the GPL, mere human beings - American citizens - arrogate to themselves the right to give permission to copy, modify, or redistribute intellectual property, while that kind of regulation of copyright, according to SCO's contention, can and must only be done - per Article 1 Section 8 of the US copyright law - by Congress itself.

A GPL licence permits anyone to see, modify, and distribute a program's underlying source code, as long as the author of the modifications publishes them when distributing the modified version.

"By this reasoning, then," says one commentator, in a post to Slashdot, "SCO will claim it has every right to use GPL code in its proprietary distributions, but on the other hand, can contend that its own code (or code which IBM created under a license which grants SCO ownership of their code) was never intended (by SCO) to be released under GPL nor public domain."

Another comment on Slashdot raises a slightly different perspective: "Why is SCO trying to get GPL code into the public domain?" the author of the post asks. "Could they perhaps be trying to cover their tails in case someone were to uncover GPL code in software THEY have been releasing closed source?

LinuxWorld will seek an insight in due course on the SCO contention from the creator of the GPL himself, Richard Stallman.

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SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

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