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SCO Plans To Sell Licenses To Allow Linux Users To Use Linux Without "Fear Of Litigation"

SCO Plans To Sell Licenses To Allow Linux Users To Use Linux Without "Fear Of Litigation"

by , 10:00 AM EDT, July 22nd, 2003

If you find yourself wondering what kind of new twists and turns the SCO Group's aggressive legal actions against the Linux community could take, you may be interested to know that the company is now asking Linux server users to pay the company directly. The action stems from SCO's allegations that Unix code owned by SCO has been illegally included in Linux distributions. According to an article at the New York Times, SCO's newest ploy is to offer to sell licenses to Linux users to allow them to use the operating system without fear of litigation.

SCO made headlines earlier this year by filing a US$1 billion lawsuit (which was later increased to over $3 billion) against IBM for allegedly contributing Unix code, which SCO claims copyright to, to the open-source Linux operating system. IBM has denied the charges. With the original case having not even made it to court, SCO has moved on to threaten other companies, including those that develop and/or use Linux. From the New York Times:

SCO, a small software marketer, said that it would offer the large corporations that use Linux a license so they can continue to use it without any worries about lawsuits that accuse them of copyright infringement.

SCO contends that Linux is an "unauthorized derivative of Unix." SCO bought the licensing rights to the Unix code and Unix copyright in 1995. Yet it is unclear, legal experts say, whether SCO's rights are as wide-ranging as the company claims.

[...]

I.B.M. characterized SCO's moves yesterday as merely the latest tactical step in its campaign to extract money from the corporate backers and users of Linux. I.B.M. has repeatedly dismissed SCO's legal claims as groundless. "SCO seems to be asking customers to pay for a license based on allegations, not facts," I.B.M. said in a statement.

So far, this effort is being aimed exclusively to commercial Linux server users, and not desktop users. Pricing for the licensing scheme has not yet been announced. You can read the full article at the New York Times' Web site, or without registration via a Google News link.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This sounds an awful lot like the classic protection racket, except SCO is offering to protect you from litigation instead of from your business being burned down.

What makes this so frustrating for us to watch is that the company has made no attempt at all to actually have the supposedly offending code removed from Linux, jumping instead straight to attempting to litigate money from IBM, and now to get end users to directly pay SCO. In fact, the company will not even tell IBM or the Linux community which code supposedly violates its copyrights, making it impossible for anyone to verify the SCO's claims. It truly is just this side of extortion, and is a very sad business model, to boot.

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