Expanding its campaign against open-source software from the courts to Congress, The SCO Group recently issued a warning to Capitol Hill that Linux threatens not only intellectual property rights but also national security.
Open-source advocates, however, are cautioning that it would take no more than a small move on the part of Congress—a small change to existing copyright law—to irreparably harm the open-source movement.
SCO President and CEO Darl McBride told lawmakers in a letter this month that "a computer expert in North Korea who has a number of personal computers and an Internet connection can download the latest version of Linux ... and, in short order, build a virtual supercomputer."
National security notwithstanding, the main concern at SCO remains the protection of intellectual property—namely, its Unix code. The Lindon, Utah, company has not yet drafted any legislation and is not necessarily seeking a specific bill, said Marc Modersitzki, a company spokesman. However, the company wants lawmakers to consider problems with open-source software when voting on legislation dealing with intellectual property, the economy and national security.
"Governments throughout the world are being encouraged and lobbied by open-source advocates to embrace all open-source technologies," Modersitzki said. "This can slowly be adopted without anything [official] happening at all."
But some in Washington arent buying SCOs warning.
"This is just absurd on its face," Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., told eWEEK. "Every exporter of software is bound by the same export controls. If someone is going to violate the law, they could do it just as readily with SCOs products as with Linux."
Charging that SCOs lobbying initiative is a continuation of its litigation efforts, Boucher said he believes SCO is wasting its time on Capitol Hill. "Members of Congress will see through this in a second," Boucher said. "No one is going to be deceived by these illogical statements."
However, open-source proponents worry that less- tech-savvy lawmakers may not be as resistant to SCOs position and warned that ideas floated on Capitol Hill sometimes make their way into legislation.