Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: 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
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that the upcoming DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO New York event will feature 10 companies from Poland to participate at the "Poland Digital Transformation Pavilion" on November 12-13, 2018.
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo 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 ...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
Michael Maximilien, better known as max or Dr. Max, is a computer scientist with IBM. At IBM Research Triangle Park, he was a principal engineer for the worldwide industry point-of-sale standard: JavaPOS. At IBM Research, some highlights include pioneering research on semantic Web services, mashups, and cloud computing, and platform-as-a-service. He joined the IBM Cloud Labs in 2014 and works closely with Pivotal Inc., to help make the Cloud Found the best PaaS.
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.