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A Proposal of Truce Between the Linux Community and The SCO Group

Open Letter to Darl McBride, CEO, The SCO Group

Dear Darl McBride,

Over the past 12 months The SCO Group's lawsuit against IBM has spilled over into new territory. What was initially a contract dispute between IBM and The SCO Group has now mutated into a war of words between The SCO Group and the Linux community. I am tired of the conflict and I propose a truce; a way forward for both our organisations.

Here are our terms of the truce:

  1. We fully recognize your right to defend your IP. We ask that you recognize our right to defend our IP. This means obeying the terms of our licenses. You must stop distributing Linux, Samba and GCC unless you are willing to agree to the terms of our General Public License (GPL).

  2. You must stop attacking the General Public License (GPL). You have spearheaded a massive publicity campaign to discredit our software license. You have used all communication channels available to you: the press, the media, private letters to American senators, open letters to businesses, conference forums, financial reports, etc. There is no justification for your behaviour. Your actions are harmful to both our organisations and you must stop immediately.

  3. Please do not accuse us of trying to destroy the economy. We are not anti-capitalist. We believe Linux and the GPL will drive the next growth spurt for the world economy. By donating the tools of software development and office automation to the entire world - through software that we have written and freely licensed - we believe there will be explosive growth in the quantity and quality of software. Our software will be the enabling technology to spur further growth in the industries where real economic wealth is created.

  4. Please do not use rhetoric to vilify our community. You have claimed or implied that we are communists, terrorists, fanatical, vandals, anti-American and opposed to intellectual property rights. None of that rhetoric is true. Your defamation against us must stop immediately.

  5. Work with us to resolve the IP infringements you claim are in Linux. It is counter-productive to allow any such problems to continue. The way forward for both our organisations is for The SCO Group's IP to be removed from Linux, if there is truly an infringement.

  6. Limit your disputes with IBM, Novell and Red Hat to the court room. You will receive fair compensation, if the courts graciously rule in your favour. Do not try and extract compensation from the users of Linux. We have done nothing wrong - the blame, if any, lies squarely with IBM - so we do not deserve to be treated so unfairly.

  7. Stop telling the public that you can charge a fee for Linux. You may charge whatever you like for your own intellectual property, but you may not disobey the terms of the General Public License that we have chosen for Linux. Our license specifically requires no-fee licensing for our intellectual property. You are violating our intellectual property rights by attempting to charge a fee for the use of Linux.

  8. You have stated many times that intellectual property is more valuable when it can be protected and grown. We agree with that statement. But we cannot protect and grow Linux - our intellectual property - while it is contaminated with The SCO Group's intellectual property. You must immediately remove the obstacles you have created to prevent us from protecting and growing our intellectual property.

Though I might represent a vanishingly small percentage of the Linux community, I still believe you are a reasonable man. You have a valuable asset and you are seeking a return on investment for your asset. We can appreciate that; we feel the same way about our own intellectual property, though our ROI is more wide-reaching than mere dollars and cents.

But it is not reasonable for you to make profit at our expense. We have done nothing wrong. Punishing us for the alleged wrongdoings of IBM is entirely unreasonable behaviour. You must stop your efforts to decrease the intellectual property value in Linux; software that we have spent the past 13 years creating.

Linux is not your software to control. Linux is our intellectual property and we ask that you respect that.

Nathan Hand


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Nathan Hand is a Linux developer and enthusiast.

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Most Recent Comments
ashishK 02/17/04 10:57:34 AM EST

At Comdex on November 18, 1993, McBride stated that SCO would target Linux users in legal proceedings within 90 days--that gives McBride until Wednesday to begin legal proceedings.

Arthur Guy 02/17/04 12:45:24 AM EST

See LINUX Magazine for July 2000. Micheal Cowpland interview
page 58. Quote "We had the Unix versions of WordPerfect. We ported the Unix code to Linux fairly early on, with WordPerfect 7." There is more in the article.

coolmos 02/16/04 04:50:33 PM EST

Dear Mr. Hand.

Although i have to agree with you about offering a truce to an enemy is a good thing, i have to disagree on this particular case. As stated before, it is no good to offer a truce to an enemy with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Suppose you are a wealthy country, at war with a poor country in a battle that will cost you an enormous amount of money, people and work. Suppose the poor country is so damned poor they will die if they don't invade your country. Would you offer a truce ?

What you have done here is reach out to someone who is going to chop off your hand, and then your arm. I don't know about you, but i don't have any spare arms.
Even worse, your arm is going to be used to slap you in the face. McBride is going to use your letter to his advantage, by saying that it is a sign of weakness, admitting Linux is tainted with code from SysV.

You are NOT dealing with a reasonable man here. He will say ANYTHING to get to the money. I am sorry to say it, but McBride deserves no truce. He deserves a defeat in trial, bigtime.

Oh, and a swift kick in the nuts, but i somehow doubt the US legal system provides THAT punishment.

R2D2 02/16/04 03:30:23 PM EST

This is really silly.. the whole market value of SCO is dependent on charging a license fee for linux. Without that hope, it will fall in a heap. Why does the author think SCO is interested in sitting down and resolving the infringements?? SCO does not want to resolve them.. they want the infringements to remain, and charge for them.

Alex Roston 02/16/04 01:39:53 PM EST

Truce is unacceptable, and proposing a truce does nothing more than make us look weak. We are not weak. In fact, we hold all the cards, and that will be recognized in court.

However, I'd be willing to accept Darl's surrender.


sbungay 02/16/04 12:59:19 PM EST

I agree with Bruce Perens. As the British people later learned a piece of paper proclaiming peace means nothing. All it did was buy Hitler time to gather his forces, lulling the British into a false sense of security before the battle really started. I would expect a similar double-cross from the likes of the current foe.

Fecal Extrusion 02/16/04 12:31:19 PM EST

Hey everyone I have a great idea...

Lets all start a company, try and make money off Linux
using unreasonable methods, and when we fail in our
attempt, let's just attack the Linux community, and try
and get money that way instead!

How's that sound?

Fecal Extrusion 02/16/04 12:06:16 PM EST

I have sad news...
If Darl McBride actually had any "BALLS", he still would
not read anything that comes from the Linux community.
Or LINUXWORLD for that matter.
(Like there's anything 'positive' for him to be reading
about himself anywhere lately?)

HOWEVER, I wouldn't put it past a certain other BALL-LESS
individual to be reading through all this looking for ammo
against the community. His name: DAVID BOIES.
In case he IS actually reading this stuff...
David, why do you have to be such an ass???
I know you're due for retirement, do you really want
to leave with your last case being a total loss and waste
of time?

Why don't you just retire NOW, and go play golf or

I should patent/copyright the letters S, C and O, and deny
them the right to use them. Sounds too ridiculous?
Well, I'm willing to bet the US Patent office WOULD let me!

Rand 02/16/04 12:05:14 PM EST

Nathan, I can understand your feelings, but I don't remember you asking me or the rest of the "community".

If you want to speak for yourself and propose a truce, do it, but don't speak for anyone else if you don't have their direct approval.

Jacek Piskozub 02/16/04 09:41:48 AM EST


If Groklaw is right, there will be a end user suit before the end of this week. In this case, your letter is a proff of good will that cannot stop the inevitable war.

John Collins 02/16/04 08:49:57 AM EST

I don't think the battle will go on for another 14 months. The IBM lawsuit will collapse quite soon as SCO don't have any evidence to support it. IBM's countersuit will probably win by default. The Novell case will be dismissed pretty soon too. Maybe even the Red Hat case will wake up.

They might thrash around with some end-user suits but they'll all fail in the end.

All of these things will adversely affect SCO as their own stock filings admit. Finally the bottom will fall out of their stock scam.

It won't be as fast or quite so conclusive as everyone would like but it'll be a lot shorter than 14 months. I'd bet serious money that Darl is no longer at SCO (if it still exists) by the end of 2004.

Nathan Hand 02/16/04 08:38:10 AM EST

I think some people have been confused by my letter. Some people are accusing me of capitulating, of begging for defeat at the moment of victory, and even questioning my motives!

I'd like to remind everybody that The SCO Group is not in litigation with the Linux community. The SCO Group is in litigation with IBM, Novell and Red Hat (and it seems certain that The SCO Group will lose all three cases). A truce between The SCO Group and the Linux community
doesn't affect those lawsuits in any way!

I'd also point out that in a war of words there is no winner; there are only losers. The image of Linux is being harmed even though we have the facts on our side. The general media doesn't care about the facts, they care about the controversy. The SCO vs IBM lawsuit doesn't even begin for another 14 months. Although I'm certain The SCO Group will be defeated, should we suffer 14 more months of negative publicity?

My proposed truce would put an end to the negative publicity *now*. It brings The SCO Group into compliance with the General Public License *now*. It removes all the fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding the legal status of Linux *now*. IBM, Novell and Red Hat can pick over the bloody carcass of The SCO Group in 14 months or more, but I want
an end to the war of words *now*.

Bear in mind that IBM cares about IBM, Novell cares about Novell, Red Hat cares about Red Hat, but I care about Linux. I see Linux being harmed by The SCO Group's actions. The lawsuits will destroy The SCO Group but the damage being inflicted on Linux must stop *now*.

Who cares 02/16/04 08:21:01 AM EST

Why would the Linux community want a truce.
The damage that the article refers to has already been done, by calling a truce now it doesn't get less.
Further the current situation looks like Linux (actually Companies with a vested interest in Linux) is going to crush SCO. The only thing that is left for SCO is signing an unconditional surrender or get turned into pulp.
They will not surrender for a variety of reasons. Which leaves only one solution and that is utter destruction of SCO and then sowing the battlefield with salt as an example for future SCOs (note this is figuratively speaking)

John Collins 02/16/04 07:25:18 AM EST

I am sure that Darl knows as well as anyone else that his claims against Linux are a fraud. He's painted himself into a corner though and it's going to cost him far to much to back down now on any point.

I'd want to see SCO completely defeated on every issue. Otherwise people will always be saying that there is some questionmark over Linux because "they did a deal".

Dick Busch 02/16/04 07:11:09 AM EST

Who is this Nathan Hand, and why was this preposterous, irrational proposal given column space?!? Thank goodness he hasn't any standing comparable to the ignoble, foolhardy and criminally-naive Neville Chamberlain.

Sorry, but I seriously question your motives in this affair, Nathan. Sure, be a "Suzy Creamcheese" in your personal life if you want! There, blind, dumb naivite' is all well and good, but THIS - an overture from the OSS community at this juncture - plays *perfectly* to a Linux-embattled M$ and a suicidal proxy - SCO - that is about to get blown out of the water. It's all over but the paperwork, hence IBM's determination to grind SCO into dust.

Now, why should the Linux community suck up to entities that attack us with blind, pernicious savagery? Why capitulate now?!? That is what suing for peace represents, which is utterly irresponsible.

You can't reason with the unreasonable! Therefore, you don't.

"Peace," in the abstract, is NOT what you want with criminal, sociopathic entities you are very close to defeating. Having established that SCO is without anything but a few M$ bucks and a lot of chutzpah, it no longer represents a genuine threat to the Linux movement, IMHO.

A no less important issue in my view is to what extent did M$ have a role in SCO's Kamikazi behaviors? That potentially explosive RICO/antitrust issue becomes forever obscured if SCO is allowed to live.

I also question the editorial decision to run this preposterous idea of a truce - on these terms - in the first place (unless anyone can propose anything here, in which case I apologize in advance... =P).

Jacek Piskozub 02/16/04 01:56:07 AM EST

I believe Aragorn's words from "The Two Towers" are very appropriate here:

Aragorn: A Eruchîn, ú-dano i faelas a hyn an uben tanatha le faelas!
(Show them no mercy! For you shall receive none!)

[cited after http://moviez.webz.cz/scriptz/ring2.html]

Bruce Perens 02/16/04 12:13:13 AM EST

Unfortunately, this is very naive. As someone who has spent a lot of time on the SCO matter, I can state with total surety that SCO's management are carrying out a stock-kiting scheme at our expense. You can't make a truce with criminals, there is not the slightest chance that they will honor it.Bruce

Daniel R. Haney 02/15/04 09:42:33 PM EST

No truce. No quarter asked. None given.

It is not enough that SCO halt their attempts to appropriate (aka "steal") the public commons. They must be brought to account and punished. Nothing less will secure the future of FOSS than a uniform and aggressive intolerance of SCO and their ilk.

To relent now is to give up freedom for the convenience of a respite.

Nathan Hand 02/15/04 08:37:27 PM EST

"3) How do you like SCO's chances of prevailing in their attack on the GPL? If the answer is "not much", why in the world should _we_ go for a truce?"

Hi Jim,

I think a truce is important because even though I have no doubt IBM will win the court case purely on merit, in the intervening 14 months (!) until the trial begins, and who knows how long until the trial ends, we will be subjected to press releases from The SCO Group attacking the GPL and accusing the Linux community of all manner of illegal and juvenille acts. This harms us in the short-term, and maybe harms us in the long-term if the "sh*t sticks".

"Judged on purely practical grounds, it seems to me that the free software community has little to gain and a lot to lose by attempting to make peace with SCO. "

I think peace is always justified, even if it is with your worst enemy. All that is being gained by this constant back and forth of "they stole our code", "did not", "did too" is that the image of Linux is being tarnished. Even though I know we are innocent, the Linux community will emerge from this fiasco as the clear loser. The quicker we can act to limit the damage being done by The SCO Group's PR team, the better it is for all of us.

This next piece isn't addressed to you. Another person made a comment that I shouldn't have used the term "intellectual property". I debated this with myself, aware of the vague umbrella nature of the phrase, but decided that the phrase was justified in this case. The SCO Group initially sued IBM over alleged trade secret infringements and breach of contract. Now The SCO Group wants to drop their claims of trade secret infringement and instead sue IBM for copyright infringement. They have also hinted that Unix "methods" are at stake here. So given that The SCO Group is talking about or has talked about trade secrets, copyrights and methods, I considered "intellectual property" to be an appropriate phrase to cover all the bases.

BSDProtector 02/15/04 07:25:13 PM EST

> "I still believe you are a reasonable man"

Keep dreaming my friend. Keep dreaming...

Jim Easter 02/15/04 07:03:02 PM EST

I have three questions (OK, five with the followups) for Nathan Hand:
1) On what evidence do you believe Darl McBride to be a "reasonable man"?
2) If SCO were to accept your terms, how long do you expect they would last as a company, given the ill-will they have already engendered? If the answer is "not long", why in the world should they go for a truce?
3) How do you like SCO's chances of prevailing in their attack on the GPL? If the answer is "not much", why in the world should _we_ go for a truce?

Judged on purely practical grounds, it seems to me that the free software community has little to gain and a lot to lose by attempting to make peace with SCO.
Judged on the grounds of principle, it seems to me that our obligation is to recognize evil, and oppose it.

David Mohring 02/15/04 06:01:45 PM EST

Peace For Our Time

The following is the wording of the printed statement that Neville Chamberlain waved as he stepped off the plane on 30 September, 1938 after the Munich Conference had ended the day before:

"We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe.
We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.
We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe"

Chamberlain read the above statement in front of 10 Downing St. and said:

"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time...
Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."

The SGO Group's rhetoric attacks against the legal validity of the GNU General Public License started only after the SGO Group signed an aggreement with Microsoft for the licensing of unnecessary rights.

The SCO group and Microsoft claim that the millions of dollars is payment for the right to license the Unix API in Microsoft's Services For Unix ( SFU ) product.

A bit of History, Softway Systems wrote the NT DDL POSIX compatablity Layer in 1995, and Microsoft aquired Softway in 1999. The OS level was written to the POSIX standards, for which AT&T and later Novell relinquished all copyright claims for for both the ANSI/IEEE (POSIX) and Federal Information Processing Standards Publication FIPS 151-2 (POSIX.1) and FIPS 189 (POSIX.2) standards. Microsoft should know this because they themselves participated in the FIPS roundtables. The SCO Group itself admits that it does not hold any of the AT&T/USL patents, any of which would be well past it's seventeen years, available now royalty-free and secured with decades of published prior-art.

Microsoft's SFU and Interix products are in no way dependent upon the IP that SCO holds.

Microsoft has extended SFU without further violating SCO's ( now claimed as Novell's ) intellectual property. Microsoft embrace and extend the source from the unencumbered OpenBSD varient...

IMO the only real reason for Microsoft paying the SCO Group is to finance the SCO Groups Anti-GPL,Anti-Linux,Anti-open source campaign.

Darl McBride and Co have permanently damaged the reputation of the SCO brand. No one is going to want to deal with an organization which continually threatens its own customer base with legal action. In a search for an exit strategy for its major stakeholder, the Canopus Group, and later to fraudulently boost the overinflated stock price, Darl McBride and Co have decimated the future of Calera Linux and their branches of the AT&T/USL/Novell/SCO Unix. But because Microsoft is now the SCO Groups largest source of revenue, Darl McBride and Co are effectively locked in a course diametrically opposed to its own future existance.

Linux developers and advocates have made repeated overtures to the SCO Group, requesting that the SCO Group come clean and show the offending lines of code along with proof of "ownership" by the SCO Group of the violated code. The SCO Group refuses to do so, even when it is a legal requirement to do so when seeking damages.

In the press, Darl McBride and Co have repeatedly contradicted their own past claims and statements in an increasingly desperate attempt to maintain it's stock price and damage Linux.

As with Chamberlain, if you entered into negotiation and even signed a treaty with the SCO group, Darl and Co would just use it as propaganda, an admission of guilt from the Linux kernel developers and users. In the meantime the SCO group would just continue spinning Microsoft's FUD and outright lying.

Joe Buck 02/15/04 04:48:04 PM EST

I don't want a truce with SCO. I want SCO to be defeated.

I don't want SCO to start respecting the GPL as part of a "truce". I want them to start respecting it because a court so orders, so that never again can someone claim that courts have not ruled on the GPL's validity.

Filippo 02/15/04 03:28:49 PM EST

The term "intellectual property" should be banned from Free Software people's mouth. It is sad that this man used that expression in a letter written on behalf of the Free Software Community. I do not buy that letter, even if I am actually a Free Software developer.

SCO should do one thing: recognise that the GPL is a valid license, and that Free Software is not Public Domain software. I proudly claim copyright on my work, although I let people read/change/study/distribute it freely. This process is called Copyleft by the GPL'ling Free Software developers.

Thank you,

Filippo Rusconi

AJ 02/15/04 03:27:21 PM EST

Personaly I don't know how this got as far as it has without SCO showing the stolen code to start with. And when it is shown and proven not to have been stolen, then McBride and the whole bunch should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for perpatrating this sham just to boost profits.

Rich 02/15/04 03:12:35 PM EST

To quote the weak-minded Neville Chamberlain who tried to do a deal with Hitler: "Peace in our time" ? Give us a break. I'll be satisfied when McBride is personally bankrupted and goes down for a few year's jail time for slander, misappropriation and securities fraud. Let this be a lesson to his masters at Microsoft who paid for the shady actions of this mercenary.

D. Jeff Dionne 02/15/04 03:12:15 PM EST

I don't think it is appropriate to call for a truce with such a distructive organization. More appropriate is to make certain that Canopy, Yarrow and whom ever else is involved in this massive, illegal stock scam are completely discredited and prosecuted for the crimes they have commited.

They have no intellectual property, period. Be patient, IBM will use the legal system and testimony of those who were or still are close to them to make sure justice is done. All that will be left in the end is a Caldera :-)


Dave 02/15/04 01:44:56 PM EST

After reading the transcript of McBride's speech at Harvard, I realized that they will never remove their "property" from the Linux Sources.

Their argument is that some confidential Unix SV code got into Linux, and if they tell you what it is it won't be confidential anymore. Because they want to preserve their rights, the only alternative is to completely take ownership of Linux!

Pretty clever, huh?

plr 02/15/04 12:16:04 PM EST

Please replace "IP" with "copyright". Software patents should not be acknowledged. Even if SCO doesn't have them, other companies do, and they can damage free software much more than SCO.

Jacek Piskozub 02/15/04 11:53:34 AM EST

This thing has gone too far. Let's face it: SCO declared total war against GPL, and more generally and the open source community without any trace of evidence of any SCO IP stolen by anyone (unless we believe their viral interpretation of the Unix license: every code ported to Unix becomes SCO property).

Therefore, I believe that the only the kind only truce we can propose now is unconditional capitulation of SCO.

Mojo Nichols 02/15/04 10:21:26 AM EST

Truce! It will work itself out in court. SCO and other jerk filled corporations would benefit from a truce at this point. They could go back to their corners and gear up for another PR onslaught. If they did it with in a years time the average American would see it as one big giant headache. I can see the MS PR now, buy our software, it has numerous security flaws out of the box, but you don't have to worry about legal problems. This battle needs to make it clear that said corporations can't steal peoples copyrighted works. And it will, SCO doesn't have leg to stand on.

Give me Linux (and the GPL) or give me death.

And my next computer will be an IBM with RH and SUSE installed on it.

StormReaver 02/15/04 07:45:07 AM EST

an insight into Mr McBride came in his address last week to the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology:

"I...sat in a room a little larger than this about a year ago out on a campus at Brigham Young University, and the CEO of a leading open source company came out there and spoke. And I was kind of interested to go and hear what he was talking about. So this was a competitor of ours, and I was actually kind of interested in going and breaking bread with him and talking about how can we move the ball down the field together? How can we work together?

As I went to hear his speech, I was sitting up there amidst a bunch of students. I didn't look like a student, which I wasn't, therefore it made sense I didn't look like one. But as he spoke, there were a couple of things that were striking to me. The first thing that was striking is he got up and started talking about how the copyright system in America was outdated, that the copyright laws had been on the books for hundreds of years, and they were totally out of sync with what was going on in the digital age, and he was calling on students to write your Congressperson, lobby Congress to, sort of, overturn the current copyright laws.

We need to get these copyright laws out. This DMCA, Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- you're all familiar with that, I'm sure -- is a disaster, we've gotta get it out. And it was interesting for me as a CEO of a company who has very important copyrights to hear. The attack was not on us directly. It was, We've gotta get rid of copyrights, because that plays into what we want to do with our open source system. So that was interesting to me. Second thing that was interesting was he said, one of the questions along the way was, Who do you compete with? What are you selling in the marketplace?"

(This is from the Groklaw transcript of the Q & A session.

adelayde 02/15/04 07:03:06 AM EST

Surely we could just start a fund and if every Linux user, supporter, developer etc world-wide put somewhere between 1 and 10 dollars into it we'd have enough cash to simply buy out SCO, own UNIX, sack McBride, make all rights to anything SCO has public domain, drop all law suits and then put the forlorn company out of its and our misery?

SaysWho? 02/15/04 06:46:10 AM EST

Says Ghandi that's who!

"An eye for and eye makes the world blind." -- M. Gandhi

Plus Einstein. Rember him?

"There is always a better way to do everything. It's up to us to find it." -- A. Einstein

SaysWho? 02/15/04 06:44:14 AM EST

"Compromise is never anything but an
ignoble truce between the duty of a man and the terror of a coward."

T. Traub 02/15/04 06:43:12 AM EST

Sure let's have a trcue. Everything SCO has been doing has benefitted MS in some way.

I guess MS learned a lesson from the Netscape debacle; stay just this side of the law and let someone else do your dirty work for you.

Pharmboy 02/15/04 06:33:43 AM EST

Our company (less than 25 stations) was beginning a migration before the FUD started. The boss approached me with concerns, and is warmer toward MS now. Our biggest concern is applications, not SCO, but the lawsuit has put a small shard of glass in his brain regarding Linux. I don't think it will make a huge difference, but if it REALLY came down to a 50%/50% decision, it may be what puts him over the edge.

After I showed him the Slashdot article about Ernie Ball and showed him some of the terms of MS's new licensing (plus the costs) he is not excited about MS. We are running an ANCIENT network, and MUST upgrade in the next few months. He didn't like the idea about auditing, or fines for accidental non-compliance. (we don't use any apps that would have us pirating anyway, just accounting stuff) I will forward to him the article on Office here on the front page as well. We are still using Office 97, and have no reason to upgrade, except maybe to Open Office :D Of course, now he is slightly leary of open source stuff, and he's really not a PHB, but a pretty reasonable boss.

In a nutshell: Its making a small difference to us, but MAYBE enough to push the boss away from open source software in general. This is making my job hard, because now i have to look at both MS and Open Source solutions for this network upgrade.

insomoniakl 02/15/04 06:30:56 AM EST

There have been'rolling' reprecussions to those lawsuits that are still rippling down the time line as affected companies try to recover from the damage done.

For instance: A small organization that was working with a consultancy is considering Linux and a series of service agreements. With all the fear-mongering happening due to SCO's claims, the smaller organization is scared away from Linux and decides to stick with a vanilla Microsoft business environment. What happens?

The organization takes a substancial financial hit to pay for the usual Windows license agreements (OS, applications, etc.)
The consultancy they're dealing with is out of luck.
Open Source projects aren't given their fair chance.
If this happens too often, the consultancy could face more lost contracts, etc, etc.

We have to prevent a SCO from doing this again in the future. While some may claim that it infringes on their rights to restrict business practices, there should be limits. I've noticed, here in North America, companies have too much freedom to do pretty much whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want, for almost whatever reason. I'm sure many (if not most) of you share the same sentiments.

puzzzled 02/15/04 05:43:22 AM EST

Not McBride and SCO with their frivolous lawsuits, not Microsoft with their billions in cash reserves, not silly US Patent law, not Digital Restrictions Management in BIOS; no one can stop open source now - profit motive and customer demand are going to grind those things into the dust as surely as the automobile did to tack and harness shops.

The internet is global and the desktop is strategic. I mean military/industrial strategic - look at the Pacific rim and their government's backing of their own Linux distribution. Europe is more low key about it but they're equally pleased to have local boys making a more stable product and freeing them from possible NSA/CIA/FBI sanctioned intrusion.

AynSCO 02/15/04 05:36:19 AM EST

In a lot of respects, SCO's behavior is a lot like that of James Taggert in Atlas Shrugged - especially when James got involved behind the scenes in attempting to profit from Francisco d'Anconia's Mexican mine venture.

For those who aren't familiar with the work, the book was author Ayn Rand's "comprehensive" embodiement of her objectivism philosophy into a novel form. While objectivism has its issues and is certainly incomplete in many areas, it provides a contract philosophy basis that is probably best represented by the emergence of the open source world. In a nutshell, the only legitimate way for two people to interact is on the basis of trade, where each is receiving what they perceive as a legitimate and appropriate value for the trade. Coercion, extortation, theft (taking without a consensual trade), intimidation, etc. are all inappropriate forms.

bbbbb2 02/15/04 05:33:29 AM EST

Give up, guys. Darl won't be stopped until he's either rich or passed on to the great closed source world in the sky.

SCOsh5y 02/15/04 05:27:29 AM EST

So when will Darl do you think stop disparaging the GPL by referring to "copyleft", associating it with "leftists" and implying to those without a grasp of geek irony that it seeks to annihilate copyright rather than (in the minds of many advocates) balance it.

Flower 02/15/04 05:25:06 AM EST

Let's all bear in mind:

SCO is embroiled in multiple litigations and have yet to prove any misappropriations of copyrights that they might not even own.

Linux and OSS might be free for distribution but multi-billion dollar industries have developed for the deployment and support of these solutions.

The Copyright Code explictly allows for the trading of copyrighted works as an incentive. The GPL is essentially a license utilizing this incentive.

Owners of copyright can and do license their code under multiple licenses. GhostScript anyone?

For a small initial investment of money and greater investment of personal time OSS allows a self-motivated individual the opprotunity to improve their job prospects and station in life without resorting to software piracy - an excellent example of the proverbial American Dream.

mmurphy000 02/15/04 05:16:53 AM EST

By that logic:
Companies based on selling commodity products are just not going to be as profitable as companies selling unique products. If they try to be, someone will come along and do it cheaper and just as well. Which is why Wal-Mart went out of business on...oh, wait.

Companies based on delivering low-end basic services, like fast-food restaurants, are just not going to be as profitable as companies selling unique services, like fancy restaurants. If they try to be, someone will come along and do it cheaper and just as well. Which is why McDonald's went out of business on...huh, that example didn't work either.

Point is, there are many axes upon which firms can compete (brand, service level, price, etc.). Open source may hamper some of these axes, but so can other things (e.g., locating a high-end restaurant in a low-income neighborhood may be problematic), so there's no basis in making a general statement about business profitabliity

rsilvergun 02/15/04 05:15:33 AM EST

Let's remember though that Open Source *is* going to drive down the value of software. It prevents lock-in while allowing practically anyone to enter the market for a relatively low capital investment. Perhaps worst of all (from a shareholder's perspective) it allows people to bypass the market entirely, getting the software to run their computers for free.

Companies based on Open source software are just not going to be as profitable as proprietary software companies with a lock on the market. If they try to be, someone will come along and do it cheaper and just as well.

gaijin99 02/15/04 05:05:54 AM EST

SCO's position is that any GPLed software, if the GPL is declared invalid, would be released to the public domain. They want "free as in we can grab it and sell it for money" software. Free as in, you do the work, they take the profit and give you zilch, software. Darl and company doesn't just want IBM to give them billions, and every Linux user worldwide to give them $699. They want Linux, the FSF, and every single free software project on Earth dead and ruined. The reason we hackers are so opposed, in viscrial and emotional ways, to SCO's attack is because they are attempting to destroy what we've spent 20 years building.

SCOwatcher 02/15/04 05:04:30 AM EST

SCO has argued both directly and indirectly that when the GPL is declared invalid, then any GPLed software will be in the public domain and not covered under ANY copyright protection.

As far as SCO's officers are concerned, they can use SAMBA or any other GPLed software however they want because its already in the public domain because the GPL is illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, and fattening.

DrawH 02/15/04 05:02:54 AM EST

Calling a truce makes sense, even though as you say code that e.g. Andrew Tridgell writes for Samba cannot possibly be owned by SCO.

Samba code is released under the GPL. The GPL says, in effect, "I'm allowing you to use this code under a certain set of conditions". If the GPL is invalid, then basic copyright law will be in effect

SCO distributes Samba code, presumably under the GPL. I'm guessing that SCO hasn't negotiated a separate agreement with the Samba guys to distribute their code under some non-GPL arrangement

if SCO succeeds in getting the GPL rendered invalid (and that is unlikely since, in this example, it's the Samba guys saying "I'm gonna give you extra rights to use this provided you stick to these conditions..." which is a very common approach to licencing), then SCO is simply breaking basic copyright law in distributing Samba

In other words, if the GPL is valid, then SCO has no case. If the GPL is invalid, then SCO is breaking the copyright of lots of individual copyright holders. Either way, they lose.

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