Open-Source Community Defends GPL Against SCO Attack

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-01-05 Print this article Print

The open-source community is rallying against The SCO Group's attack late last month that the GPL, violates the U.S. Constitution as well as copyright and patent laws.

The open-source community is rallying against comments made by The SCO Group CEO Darl McBride late last month that the GPL, under which Linux and open-source software is distributed, violates the U.S. Constitution as well as copyright and patent laws.

McBride created a furor last month when he wrote: "We believe that adoption and use of the GPL [GNU General Public License] by ... the software industry was a mistake. The positions of the Free Software Foundation and Red Hat [Inc.] against proprietary software are ill-founded and are contrary to our system of copyright and patent laws."

Rolland Roseland, a systems developer for information services at The Schwan Food Company Inc., in Marshall, Minn., said McBrides characterization of GPL use as illegal is a mistake.

"McBride is wrong to state that those who support and participate in the GPL and open-source software creation and distribution are against copyright practice and copyright law," Roseland said. "Owners of IP [intellectual property] have the right to copyright their IP or to provide it free to society. It is their choice, and we should be supporting that choice."

Furthermore, this latest blast from McBride paints SCO, which owns rights to Unix, into a corner, Roseland said. Thats because several years ago, while operating under the name Caldera International Inc. as a Linux distributor, it used the GPL.

"If this case has any merit whatsoever, and I believe Im in the camp that doubts there is any merit, they are therefore accusing themselves of illegally infringing on the copyrighted material of another company, since at the time Unix was owned by Novell [Inc.] and/or the former SCO," he said.

Next page: Is SCO "playing dirty"?

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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