This could be the beginning of the end of SCO vs. Linux. Heck, it could be the end of SCO.
I always thought SCOs position could crumble quickly. While I believed that they might have a contract case against IBM with regard to how Project Monterrey was handled, Ive never thought theyve had an intellectual property leg to stand on when it came to Unix code being illegally placed in Linux.
I mean, the whole point of Linux from the get-go was to create a Unix-like operating system that wasnt based on Unix. It took Linux almost 10 years of development to be as good as a top Unix; youd think Linus and the rest of the open-source development community could have done it a wee bit faster if they had really been programming by copying machine.
Be that as it may, I always thought that a quick end to SCOs assaults against Linux could come when the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City would grant IBM a summary judgment against SCOs intellectual property claims. IBM may have only asked for such a judgment recently, but I always knew that Big Blue was going to make this move.
Now, my esteemed colleague and fellow columnist Rob Enderle thinks SCO could win if the trial goes in front of a jury. Me? Ive never thought the case will make it to a jury.
All you would need to do is look at the list of things SCO has to overcome to make their case and youd have to wonder why the Lindon, Utah, company was even trying. First, they have to show that they, not Novell, owned Unix. Then, they have to prove that code had been taken from Unix for Linux. Next, the boys from Utah have to prove that IBM, not SCOs own programmers, had made the aforementioned transfer. And, last, but never least, they have to convince a court that even though they had been releasing Linux well into 2003 under the GPL, that somehow they hadnt meant to release the Unix code in Linux under the GPL. My little mind boggled, but SCOs leaders have been sure they could win all these points.
But, now that may all be as irrelevant as last years Christmas tree. BayStar Capital is pulling its $20 million of funding right out from underneath SCO.
Theyre doing it because, when you get right down to it, theyre accusing SCO of having lied to them about the state of their business. SCO is denying this and is refusing to redeem the stock shares.
Blake Stowell, SCOs director of corporate communications, told me that this came as a complete surprise to SCO. Indeed, when Stowell and I spoke on Friday, SCO CEO Darl McBride was still flying back to SCOs headquarters from a business trip after hearing of the news. “Were still in an information-gathering mode ourselves, and were trying to find out where we stand,” Stowell said.
Oh, the irony! SCO has spent months refusing to show anyone even samples of the “stolen” source code without nondisclosure agreements, and now theyre the ones who are in a position of not knowing exactly what it is that theyre being accused of doing.
As Linus Torvalds told me, “Yeah, my heart really goes out to them.”
The Royal Bank of Canada, which ponied up the other $30 million in what was SCOs $50 million litigation war chest, hasnt asked for its money back yet. But at least one expert, albeit one with an open-source bias—OSDN IT stock analyst Melanie Hollands—opined in NewsForge that “it is possible that the (whole) PIPE deal is about to fall apart,” adding, “I certainly think that Royal Bank of Canada may have cause to ask for a cash redemption Monday or soon.”
If that happens, if SCO does have to pay back the cash these two companies loaned it, its game over.
SCO can withstand the slings and arrows of outraged open-source advocates. However, no company can withstand its creditors pulling its credit.
eWEEK.com Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.
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