The Open Source Initiative on Monday updated its stinging attack against the SCO Group—the company that is suing IBM for $1 billion and that claims that the Linux operating system is an unauthorized derivative of Unix, to which SCO owns the rights.
OSI, a non-profit educational association with offices in Palo Alto, Calif., is one of the principal advocacy groups for the open-source community and falls under the presidency of Linux luminary Eric Raymond.
In an OSI position paper, amended yesterday, the group addresses a wide range of SCOs claims in the lawsuit against IBM and its claims to ownership of the Unix source code.
It also claims that a judgment in favor of SCO could do serious damage to the open-source community. “SCOs implication of wider claims could turn Linux into an intellectual-property minefield, with potential users and allies perpetually wary of being mugged by previously unasserted IP claims, and ever-more-outlandish theories of entitlement being propounded by parties with only the most tenuous relationship to anyone who ever wrote actual program code,” it said.
Speaking on behalf of the community that wrote most of todays Unix code, and whose claims to have done so were tacitly recognized by the impairment of AT&Ts rights under a 1993 settlement, “we protest that to allow this outcome would be a very grave injustice.”
“We wrote our Unix and Linux code as a gift and an expression of art, to be enjoyed by our peers and used by others for all licit purposes both non-profit and for-profit. We did not write it to have it appropriated by men so dishonorable that after making profit from our gift for eight years they could turn around and insult our competence,” Raymond says in the paper.
The damage to the open-source community that would result if SCO prevails in its case against IBM would be significant as the community is “both todays principal source of innovation in software and the guardians and maintainers of the open Internet. Our autonomy is everyones bulwark against government and corporate control of the digital media that are increasingly central in political, commercial, and personal communications,” the paper said. “Our creative energy is what perpetually renews and finds ever more exciting uses for computers and networks. The vigor of our culture today will translate into more possibilities for everyone tomorrow.”
OSI is hopeful that the court will find against SCO in its complaint against IBM, or for IBM on any motion for dismissal or summary judgment, and will ground the finding in terms that would foreclose any future claims by SCO of proprietary control over technologies contributed to Linux, as well as confirm that SCOs ownership of the ancestral Bell Labs source code gives it no authority or proprietary entitlement over the works of the open-source community and Unix developers at large, it said.
Also on Monday, Microsoft Corp. said it is licensing the Unix source code and patent from SCO in “an effort designed to ward off any potential future litigation or claims of non-compliance” against the Redmond, Wash., software company and its products, including Services for Unix, a Microsoft spokesman told eWEEK Monday.
Last October Microsoft also launched a more comprehensive program to help drive customers away from Unix and onto the Windows platform.
While Microsoft has previously offered individual tools to help in this regard—such as its Services for Unix software, which allows greater operability between existing Unix-based enterprise systems and Windows on both the server and desktop—the idea was to provide greater support and services around those migrations.
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