SCO Goes to Washington in Linux Battle

CEO Darl McBride, in a letter to lawmakers, raises concerns that Linux and open-source software endanger the nation's IT industry, competitiveness and security.

The SCO Group Inc. has found a new venue for its attacks on Linux and open-source software: Capitol Hill.

SCO earlier this month sent a letter to the 535 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate from company President and CEO Darl McBride, raising concerns about open-source software and its General Public License (GPL), the company confirmed on Wednesday.

In the letter, which the Open Source and Industry Alliance on Wednesday made public on its Web site in PDF format, McBride wrote that open-source software threatens the U.S. IT industry, the nations global economic competitiveness and national security. He urged lawmakers to consider these threats when voting on economic, intellectual property and national security issues.

"I urge you to consider the other side because I believe that Open Source, as it is currently constituted, is a slippery slope," McBride wrote to legislators. "It undermines our basic system of intellectual property rights, and it destroys the economic reason for innovation."

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said the letter was the first time SCO has approached lawmakers about its intellectual property concerns around Linux and open source. He declined to say whether the Lindon, Utah, company is planning future lobbying efforts in Congress.

"We sent this communication because we felt it was an issue that the highest lawmakers in the land need to be aware of," Stowell said.

SCO is in the middle of a protracted legal battle with IBM and has threatened to sue a major enterprise user of Linux for copyright infringement. The company this week also sued Novell Inc. over copyright issues.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about SCOs charges against Novell.

SCOs letter elicited a sharp rebuke from the Open Source and Industry Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based association of IT companies involved in open source and an arm of the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

"A company that is being out-innovated by the open-source community wants us to accept a bizarre notion: that top of the line, enterprise grade software produced at a low cost is a threat to the economy," said OSAIA President and CEO Ed Black in a statement. "Software adopted by hundreds of the nations largest tech and non-tech companies is no threat except to those who cant innovate and compete."

McBride, in his letter, mentioned SCOs legal battles over Linux and its contention that Linux contains portions of its proprietary Unix code. He also attached a copy of his December open letter in which he contends that the GPL violates the U.S. Constitution and U.S. copyright laws.

/zimages/4/28571.gifWhat arguments did McBride make in his letter on the GPL? Click here to read more.

"By taking action, our company has become a target for sometimes vicious attacks—including online attacks that have repeatedly shut down our company Web site," McBride wrote to lawmakers. "Despite this, we are determined to see these legal cases through to the end because we are firm in our belief that the unchecked spread of Open Source software, under the GPL, is a much more serious threat to our capitalist system than U.S corporations realize."