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By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-07-21 Print this article Print

"All they can do is try to get money from Linux users by guaranteeing them that if they pay now, they will be compliant and avoid the headache of litigation down the line," Carey said. "But, given the licensing conditions of the GNU General Public License, which governs Linux and does not allow royalty or license payments, any such move is also likely to be strongly contested."

Blake Stowell, director of communications at SCO, declined to comment on the licensing possibility but confirmed the company had received feedback to the letter it sent warning that Linux is an unauthorized derivative of Unix.

Many CEOs who received the letter asked SCO for guidance on how they could become compliant. "We are in the process right now of considering what they could do to come into compliance," Stowell said. Asked by eWEEK if a fee is a possibility, Stowell said that it "could be."

Bradley Kuhn, executive director of the Free Software Foundation, in Boston, said that any licensing, royalty or other fees charged to Linux users would not be in compliance with the GNU General Public License.

If a company agreed to pay royalties to SCO, the FSF would be hostile to that notion and would probably sue to enjoin it, Carey said. "From a free-software and open-source perspective, what SCO is trying to do looks a lot like extortion because they believe SCO has no rights to the Linux code and may now be preparing to charge people for its use," he said.

Linux users also will not get clarity from the courts soon. SCOs Stowell said the Utah court is not scheduled to hear the companys application for a permanent injunction to stop IBM from shipping AIX until 2005. Carey said this indicates that SCOs strategy is to let "the pot simmer for years and let people get increasingly worried about the legal risk."

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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