SCO Group Launches Broadside Against GPL

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-12-04 Print this article Print

In an open letter released on Thursday, SCO CEO Darl McBride responded to recent criticism by the Unix community and leveled a strong attack on the GNU General Public License.

The SCO Group, which is involved in a protracted legal battle against IBM and is threatening lawsuits against corporate Linux users, on Thursday moved to respond to some of the criticisms of its legal claims. In an open letter by Darl McBride, SCOs chief executive officer, provided a view on the key issue of U.S. copyright law versus the GNU GPL (General Public License). McBride warned that the current legal controversies will rage for at least another 18 months, until its original case against IBM goes to trial. In the letter he said the Lindon, Utah-based SCO asserts that the GPL, under which Linux is distributed, violates the United States Constitution and U.S. copyright and patent laws. "We believe that adoption and use of the GPL by significant parts of 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. We believe that responsible corporations throughout the IT industry have advocated use of the GPL without full analysis of its long-term detriment to our economy," he said.
"We are confident that these corporations will ultimately reverse support for the GPL, and will pursue a more responsible direction," McBride said in the letter. The Free Software Foundation has repeatedly criticized SCOs legal positions. The groups general counsel, Eben Moglen, recently described SCOs position as "desperate." For its part, Red Hat in August fired a warning shot at SCO with a pair of legal actions aimed at disarming SCOs claims of copyright violation over Linux. McBride went on to say in his letter that the U.S. Congress had authorized legal action against copyright violators under the Copyright Act and its most recent amendment, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. SCO intends to use the DMCA to sue some corporate Linux users, announcing earlier this month that it plans to start suing enterprise Linux users within 90 days for copyright infringement. For more information on SCOs tactic on taking direct legal action against Linux users, click here. SCO intends to "fully protect its rights granted under these Acts against all who would use and distribute our intellectual property for free, and would strip out copyright management information from our proprietary code, use it in Linux, and distribute it under the GPL," McBride said in the letter. "We take these actions secure in the knowledge that our system of copyright laws is built on the foundation of the U.S. Constitution and that our rights will be protected under law. "We do so knowing that the voices of thousands of open source developers who believe software should be free cannot prevail against the U.S. Congress and voices of seven U.S. Supreme Court justices who believe that the motive of profit is the engine that ensures the progress of science," McBride said. Next page: Is FSF undermining copyright and patent laws?

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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