What Happened to Show and Tell Time?

Brooks: SCO still hasn't made its code-infringement case clear

Wasnt June supposed to be "show and tell" time?

SCOs spent the last few months firing some awfully serious allegations and threats at every corner of the Linux community—a campaign thats been long on potentially dire implications but maddeningly short on evidence of any sort.

All this was supposed to change come June, but were halfway through the month now and we have scarcely any more facts with which to weigh SCOs code infringement claims than we did when all this began. This is because the nondisclosure agreement without which SCO refuses to reveal its cards is worded so restrictively that it seems designed to ensure that no one qualified to evaluate the evidence will see it at all.

Even with a signed NDA, SCO has tightly limited the selections, amount and context of the code its willing to show. Those whove signed the agreement and viewed the "evidence" have spoken of 80 lines of identical code present in the Linux and SCO-owned code bases. Did these lines flow from SCO to Linux, from Linux to SCO, or did both code bases inherit these lines from a third, common source, such as BSD? At this point, theres too little information to judge.

If SCOs intellectual property rights are being infringed upon, its in everyones best interests to locate and eliminate the infringing code, sort out what sort of damages (if any) are due SCO, and move forward under clear skies.

Now, Ive heard it argued that if SCO were to make clear where in Linux its improperly appropriated lines lie, itd be allowing those sneaky open source developers to eliminate the violations and thereby avoid paying SCO the damages it may be due.

However, the source code for Linux is out in the open—removing code violations wouldnt prevent SCO from pursuing justice.

SCO has likened its intellectual property campaign to those pursued by the recording industry regarding unauthorized file trading—but unlike the recording industry, SCO refuses to point out the violations.

For now, the balls in SCOs court—if its truly serious about preventing further infringement of its intellectual property, its going to have to step forward and detail where the infringements lie.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at jason_brooks@ziffdavis.com.