Many Linux customers have no intention of paying The SCO Group for a UnixWare license that would indemnify them from legal liability for using the open-source operating system.
SCO, which is suing IBM over Unix for more than $1 billion and which claims that Linux is an illegal derivative of Unix, last week said Linux users are also violating SCOs Unix copyrights, particularly now that SCO has registered a U.S. copyright for its Unix System V source code.
“With more than 2.4 million Linux servers running our software and thousands more running Linux every day, we expect SCO to be compensated for the benefits realized by tens of thousands of customers,” said SCO CEO and President Darl McBride last week. To help businesses move into “compliance,” SCO offers UnixWare licenses tailored to support run-time, binary use of Linux for all commercial users of Linux based on the 2.4 kernel and later. McBride declined to disclose pricing of the license for UnixWare. So far, however, neither the major Linux vendors nor any large corporate Linux users contacted by eWEEK are biting.
Weather.com runs Linux to serve many of its Web pages but has not been influenced by SCOs statements and legal moves and plans to continue with its Linux strategy and future implementations, said Dan Agronow, vice president of technology for Weather.com, part of The Weather Channel Enterprises Inc., of Atlanta.
Agronow said he would see what the courts decided before taking action. “Right now, this is pretty much a battle being waged in the press. To me, it would be premature to be changing strategies based on that,” he said.
Red Hat Inc. spokeswoman Leigh Day told eWEEK that the Raleigh, N.C., Linux vendor has not seen any of the offending Unix code and has confidence that its Linux offerings do not infringe on SCOs IP rights.
“We see no validity in their claims, and we therefore see no reason for our customers to feel that they need to buy a license from SCO,” Day said.
SuSE Inc. spokesman Joe Eckert, in New York, asked, “Considering SCO has shown nothing of substance, what can we say? There are also issues of the GNU General Public License and our technology agreement with SCO. We are certain that our customers have nothing to fear from SCO, despite their threats.”
Eben Moglen, a professor of law at Columbia Law School and the general counsel for the Free Software Foundation, said that nothing in SCOs announcement last week is cause for concern. “When somebody comes and says they want you to take a copyright license, you are not immediately obliged to do so and so should take the time to determine if this is a good way to respond to an allegation of infringement,” said Moglen, also in New York.