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SCO Returns Fire, Demands US$1,399 Per CPU From Linux Users

SCO Returns Fire, Demands US$1,399 Per CPU From Linux Users

by , 12:00 PM EDT, August 6th, 2003

Yesterday we pointed you to an article detailing Red Hat's artillery barrage against SCO. Red Hat filed a law suit against SCO that looks to have Red Hat's version of Linux judged to be free of any copyright and patent infringements that SCO claims all versions of Linux contain. The suit also seeks damages from SCO for lost revenue due to SCO's allegations of impropriety on Red Hat's part.

Now SCO has launched a counter-attack, with a spokesman for SCO stating that Red Hat's actions validate SCO's claim that Red Hat is using copyrighted code.

From a C|Net article titled SCO raps Red Hat, sets license prices:

In a teleconference with media and financial analysts, SCO CEO Darl McBride bluntly accused Red Hat of distributing Linux software that illegally copies SCO's Unix code.

"Red Hat's lawsuit confirms what we've been saying all along--Linux developers are either unable or unwilling to screen the code" that goes into the Linux kernel, McBride said. "Red Hat is selling Linux that contains verbatim and obfuscated code from Unix System 5."

The company did not offer any kind of reasoning as to exactly how Red Hat's actions prove SCO's allegations.

Further, SCO has announced a licensing fee scheme for anyone using Linux that is currently unlicensed by SCO. The company has been sending letters to customers of Red Hat, IBM, and other Linux vendors demanding that they pay SCO a licensing fee for that company's as yet unproved and unspecified allegations of copyright and patent infringement.

Though IBM and other Linux players have asked to be shown the offending code that SCO says comes from Unix, the company has so far refused to do so. So far, say reports, SCO has targeted corporate Linux users with Linux server installtions, but the licensing scheme includes pricing for the server and the desktop. From the C|Net article:

As promised , SCO unveiled a licensing plan Tuesday for businesses that want to continue using Linux with SCO's blessing. The new license gives customers the right to use any SCO-controlled Unix code allegedly incorporated in Linux, starting with the 2.4 version of the Linux kernel.

Prices are steep, for a free operating system. Introductory prices include $199 to run Linux on a desktop PC and $699 to run it on a server with a single CPU. The server price jumps to $1,399 after the introductory period ends on Oct. 15. By comparison, Red Hat's standard version of desktop Linux sells for $39.

McBride said businesses that continue using Linux without a SCO license can expect legal action. "We're absolutely, 100 percent going to fight for our intellectual property rights," he said. "If we don't get there with licensing, we will have to move to enforcement actions."

Read the full article at C|Net News.

The Mac Observer Spin:

If anyone has any doubts about SCO's intentions we'd say those doubts can now be set aside: SCO intends to show the world that having a grip on reality is not a prerequisite of being incorporated.

Seriously, though, SCO's actions can not even be viewed as a survival tactic; If the company truly expected to get money out of Linux customers, it would have set a licensing fee it could have hoped to actually collect. As it is, no one in their right mind is going to pay US$200-US$1,400 to run what they essentially were getting for free, especially when SCO isn't even involved in providing the OS or providing support for the OS.

It's just as clear that SCO knows this, too. No, clearly this move is intended strictly to add more FUD to the Linux market, and hurt IBM's (and now Red Hat's) efforts to sell Linux. One can only assume that this is an effort to get IBM to settle with the company, or perhaps to buy them out as many have suggested must be their goal, but the tactics seem doomed to failure in our opinion.

This doesn't even touch the suggestion that Red Hat asking a judge to clear its version of Linux as being free of infringing code somehow proves what SCO has been saying all along. That's nothing short of a delusional claim.

All of this leaves Microsoft licking its chops over all of those business customers looking for a stable OS to run their servers. SCO has managed to do more against Linux than all of Microsoft's efforts in the last three years combined, a fact that must have some Suits at Big Redmond laughing all the way to the bank.

It is absolutely amazing what some companies will do for a few extra bucks.

This is really going to get nasty, and we see no way out of this entanglement for either side except through the courts.

In the meantime, Apple users should stay tuned and pay close attention. If SCO wins against Linux Apple may be next. While FreeBSD, upon which Mac OS X's kernel is based, may be legally separate from the version of Unix SCO owns, SCO could make the same kind of claims about copyright and patent infringement against Mac OS X, too.

Mind you, we don't expect that to happen, and we don't expect SCO to win against Linux in the first place. Hopefully there won't be too much damage to the Linux market in the process.

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