Open-Source Community Defends GPL Against SCO Attack

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"?