SCO Deserves Public Scolding

Brooks: Its Linux code-infringement claims are both groundless and pointless.

Last week, The SCO Group began contacting individual companies with the message that Linux infringes on SCOs copyrights, and that end users may by liable for these copyright violations, like so many music-trading Napster or KaaZa "pirates."

SCO has put a page on its Web site titled "Quotes from Linux Leaders," in which it employs out-of-context quotes from Richard Stallman and Bruce Perens to cast these gentlemen—and, by extension, the entire Linux community—as copyright-disregarding outlaws.

At this point, it seems unlikely that SCO can prevail in the suit its filed against IBM, and I doubt whether itll have success in any subsequent action directed at a Linux distributor such as Red Hat or SuSE—let alone against an individual business running Linux.

SCOs intellectual property argument smacks of either cluelessness or disingenuousness in the extreme. Either way, SCO customers have to be questioning the competency of their OS vendor.

First there was the codebase …

Most of SCOs claims are summed up in the complaint filed with a Utah district court in March, although the companys been adding little bits and pieces to its story through the press ever since. In a nutshell, SCOs story goes like this:

All Unixes trace back to a codebase first developed at AT&Ts Bell Labs in 1969, and SCO owns this codebase. SCO also owns the code for SCO/Unix, a version of Unix intended for Intels x86 processors—in the same way that Suns Solaris is a version of Unix intended for SPARC chips, and IBMs AIX is a version of Unix intended for the Power PC processor.

In the complaint, this serves as foreshadowing, casting Linux, which was first developed as a Unix replacement that would run on Intel hardware, as an SCO adversary from day one. SCOs lawyers worked to further dramatize the situation by claiming that SCO/Unix was the only Unix to run on Intel hardware.