SCO Memos Could Provide Little Smoke

A recently unsealed internal SCO e-mail indicates that a SCO study didn't find any literal copying of Unix code in Linux in 2002, but SCO says that that's not the point.

A recently unsealed e-mail in the SCO vs. IBM case reveals that a 1999 study of Linux code by a SCO-employed consultant found no Unix code in the operating system.

The SCO Group Inc. is suing IBM because the Lindon, Utah-based company claims that are both contractual problems with Project Monterey—a deal between SCO and IBM to develop an enterprise Unix that could run on systems based on Intels IA-32 and IA-64 architectures as well as IBMs Power4 processor—and that IBM moved SCOs Unix System V Release 4 IP (intellectual property) to Linux.

In the Aug. 13, 2002, e-mail (here in PDF form) to SCOs senior VP of international operations, Reg Broughton, SCO developer Michael Davidson reported that an SCO-sponsored study had found that "at the end, we had found absolutely *nothing*. i.e. no evidence of any copyright infringement whatsoever."

While "there is, indeed, a lot of code that is common between Unix and Linux (all of the X Windows system, for example) but invariably it turned out that the common code was something that both we (SCO) and the Linux community had obtained (legitimately) from some third party."

While at SCO, Davidson wrote the lxrun utility, which enabled users to run ELF-based (executable and linking format) Linux on SCOs Unix operating systems, OpenServer and UnixWare, and Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris on Intel.

Davidson, himself, believed even before the study was commissioned that "(based on very detailed knowledge of our own source code and a reasonably broad exposure to Linux and other open source projects) that it was a waste of time and that we were not going to find anything."

Nevertheless, according to Davidson, "The project was a result of SCOs executive management refusing to believe that it was possible for Linux and much of the GNU software to have come into existence without *someone* *somewhere* having copied pieces of proprietary UNIX source code to which SCO owned the copyright. The hope was that we would find a smoking gun somewhere in code that was being used by Red Hat and/or the other Linux companies that would give us some leverage."

Going on, Davidson wrote, "Here was, at one stage, the idea that we would sell licenses to corporate customers who were using Linux as a kind of "insurance policy" in case it turned out that they were using code which infringed our copyright."

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