Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Linux Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Jason Bloomberg, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Linux

Linux: Article

"USENIX Was Here Before SCO. USENIX Was Here Before Linux," Says USENIX Assoc Open Letter to Congress

"USENIX Was Here Before SCO. USENIX Was Here Before Linux," Says USENIX Assoc Open Letter to Congress

LinuxWorld brings here the letter, sent to the 535 members of Congress, in full:

February 27, 2004

The SCO Group, Inc. (SCO), has recently sued IBM and Novell and launched broad attacks on the legality of and the economic justification for so-called open source licensing, including the free licensing of Linux. As an organization dedicated to advancing the skills and contributions of computer researchers and developers, the USENIX Association is compelled to address and refute the position SCO has taken regarding open source software.

Since 1975, USENIX has brought together the community of engineers, system administrators, scientists, and technicians working on the cutting edge of the computing world. USENIX was here before SCO. USENIX was here before Linux. USENIX and its members serve as an unparalleled demonstration that the best way to support advances in computer programming and to create better computer programs (and to help the American economy) is by sharing innovations, rather than keeping them secret or charging large amounts of money for access to them, as SCO advocates.

SCO argues that open source software, and in particular the General Public License (GPL), by means of which Linux and many other open source programs are licensed without charging fees, are “a threat to the U.S. information technology industry.” SCO’s own programmers themselves use open source computer software tools, so it is difficult to explain SCO’s position except by noting its hypocrisy. Many of the most popular computer development tools are available to programmers worldwide for free through the contributions of the open source development community. If their developers were to charge substantial fees for their use or to withdraw them from distribution entirely, commercial programmers such as SCO and non-commercial programmers alike would be the worse for it.

SCO specifically argues that open source (free) licensing “undermines our basic system of intellectual property rights.” This assertion lacks any legal justification and therefore appears to be merely self-serving. Nothing in our intellectual property laws requires inventors to charge substantial fees for access or use of their inventions. In fact, the laws of copyright and patents, which underlie the intellectual property rights that most often protect computer software programs, give their owners complete discretion in deciding how large their licensing fees should be, or, indeed, whether to impose fees at all.

SCO specifically argues that open source software “has the potential to provide our nation’s enemies or potential enemies with computing capabilities that are restricted by U.S. law.” Intellectual property law is not the right place to impose restrictions on the use of computer programs abroad. That’s what our export control laws do. This confusion between intellectual property licensing and export policy shows how bankrupt SCO’s arguments are. Furthermore, the U.S. export control authorities have acknowledged the impossibility of restricting the geographical distribution of most computer software programs. In any event, neither area of law hinges on whether software programs are licensed for fees or for free, or whether the innovations are kept secret or are shared.

SCO specifically argues, “Each Open Source installation displaces or pre-empts a sale of proprietary, licensable and copyright-protected software.” This would only be true if the open source applications were superior or at least equal to their proprietary counterparts. America has always asserted that the marketplace is the best regulator. Expensive products stimulate the introduction of less expensive and better substitutes. Intellectual property laws do not change that basic principle of capitalism. SCO’s desire to be protected against competition is understandable, particularly if its products are inferior to those of its open source competitors. But it is unreasonable to expect that intellectual property laws will shield SCO from the normal operation of the marketplace.

Intellectual property law has always balanced the need to give inventors protection from competitors with the need to give society the benefit of their innovations and to let the marketplace regulate fees through the mechanisms of supply and demand. Intellectual property laws have never given inventors absolute protection against the competition of lower-cost substitutes. Copyright laws, for example, only protect against copying. If substitute programs are not copies, then they do not infringe, and they are free to compete with the original programs in the marketplace. Inventors who find they can’t compete against lower-cost or free substitutes are compelled to find other things to sell.

SCO’s claims that open source developers are damaging our system of intellectual property rights and are threatening the viability of our technology industry are intellectually dishonest. Indeed, the open source community’s practice of sharing innovations and of making them available for free clearly stimulates development and invigorates the technology sector. From the software that controls the majority of the world’s Web servers to the software that makes tasks easier on your desktops, open source development has enhanced the American economy.

Society is better off when consumers have choices and when products compete with one another on the basis of functionality and price, and inventing is facilitated when inventors share their ideas. USENIX supports the right of programmers to choose whether to charge for their programs or to make them available for free, and we oppose any attempt to change the balance inherent in our intellectual property laws.

Sincerely,

The USENIX Board of Directors

More Stories By Linux News Desk

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.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner is Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., will discuss the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conduct a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply...
Container frameworks, such as Docker, provide a variety of benefits, including density of deployment across infrastructure, convenience for application developers to push updates with low operational hand-holding, and a fairly well-defined deployment workflow that can be orchestrated. Container frameworks also enable a DevOps approach to application development by cleanly separating concerns between operations and development teams. But running multi-container, multi-server apps with containers is very hard. You have to learn five new and different technologies and best practices (libswarm, sy...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, will discuss IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sector...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Disruptive macro trends in technology are impacting and dramatically changing the "art of the possible" relative to supply chain management practices through the innovative use of IoT, cloud, machine learning and Big Data to enable connected ecosystems of engagement. Enterprise informatics can now move beyond point solutions that merely monitor the past and implement integrated enterprise fabrics that enable end-to-end supply chain visibility to improve customer service delivery and optimize supplier management. Learn about enterprise architecture strategies for designing connected systems tha...
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines...
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies.
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.