Additional Complexity

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-03-05 Print this article Print

There is also an additional complexity: In its suit against AutoZone SCO is claiming "code structure sequence is what is infringed by Linux if it is copied/modified or distributed by AutoZone," Moglen said. "I should point out that ordinary end users dont distribute software and rarely copy or modify operating system kernel code because they like to have their systems serviced by someone. SCO will have to prove the copying/modification and/or distribution as to AutoZone. "In addition, AutoZone was a SCO customer, and so it is not clear if they got any versions of Linux from SCO. So SCO will have to prove that it did not license AutoZone itself if AutoZone claimed it got a license from SCO," he said.
In short, all the questions that were raised by SCO against IBM are being raised again in in its suit against AutoZone, except now the claim is purely based on copyright. That means SCO must show that the program infringed and that AutoZones copies were distributed, copied or modified so the infringement was AutoZones work and not someone elses. "Thats an additional layer of difficulty for SCO," Moglen said.
"SCO cannot succeed simply by saying that AutoZone uses an infringing program. SCO has already been asked in the IBM case to show where the unlawful literal copying is, but has so far failed to show this," he said. If the legal issues were similar, it would be within the discretion of the federal district courts to ship the common issues to multidistrict litigation for resolution, Moglen said. "However, SCO against Novell is not a federal court litigation and is proceeding in Utah State Court and is not subject to multidistrict consolidation, so there will inevitably be a certain degree of either duplication or delay," he said. "But the court hearing the case against AutoZone could well decide to await the result of the case against Novell. "At a minimum, the argument for a preliminary injunction against AutoZone stating that SCO was being irreparably harmed and was likely to succeed on the merits in this litigation would be affected by the fact that SCO would not be likely to succeed on the merits if it did not own the copyrights to the Unix code. A judge would likely wait until the case against Novell was resolved before issuing any such preliminary injunction," Moglen said. Next page: Will litigation drag on?

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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