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SCO Demands Licensing Fees For Linux Embedded Devices, US Government

SCO Demands Licensing Fees For Linux Embedded Devices, US Government

by , 1:00 PM EDT, August 7th, 2003

Yesterday, we brought you an article looking at SCO's demand that Linux users pay them the hefty sum of US$199 for a desktop PC using Linux, or US$699 for a single-CPU server (US$1,399 after October 15th). SCO is demanding this money from end-users of Linux because the company says Linux includes code that is copyrighted and patented by SCO. The company is in the process of suing IBM for US$3 billion dollars over the issue, but has also been demanding money directly from corporate customers of Red Hat and IBM, and other Linux vendors. Yesterday, SCO finally announced how much money it wants from those customers.

According to two links posted at Slashdot, SCO announced licensing fees for two more groups of Linux users, as well. First, according to an article at EE Times, SCO is looking to squeeze US$32 per device out of users of embedded Linux devices such as the Sharp Zaurus PDA and TiVo personal video recorders. From EE Times:

In a less well-publicized part of the company's licensing terms, announced Tuesday (August 5), SCO said it will charge OEMs $32 per unit for each embedded Linux device they own.

The $32 fee applies to any embedded system regardless of whether it is a TiVo set-top box which uses embedded Linux or some models of the Sharp Zaurus which also use that kernel.

A diverse group of embedded systems that market watchers number in the millions currently use embedded Linux. They range from consumer and handheld systems to networking devices such as routers and firewalls, medical equipment and some military electronic systems use Linux. Venture Development Corp. pegs sales of embedded Linux tools and services at $62.6 million in 2002, a market growing at compound rate of 20.1 percent through 2007.

In addition to that, SCO is also planning to go after government agencies that make use of the Linux operating system, according to an article at Washington Technology. The company plans to charge the same US$699 fee that it wants for servers for Linux installations used by the government. From Washington Technology:

Government agencies must pay up to $699 for each copy of the Linux operating system that they use, the SCO Group Inc., Lindon, Utah, announced Tuesday in a new licensing program.

However, SCO's intellectual property claims over Linux remain contested by other parties.

"We believe it is necessary for Linux customers to properly license SCO's [intellectual property] if they are running Linux for commercial purposes," said Chris Sontag, who is a senior vice president of SCO. Use of any Linux distribution can cause liability, regardless of vendor, the company claimed.

"Government agencies shouldn't be too worried about this until they see more evidence," said Tony Stanco, head of the Center for Open Source and Government and associate director of the Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute at George Washington University.

You can read each article in full at the Web sites of EE Times and Washington Technology, respectively.

The Mac Observer Spin:

What more is there to say on the subject of SCO? The company has clearly lost all sight of reality, and is instead living in a magical fantasy land where the sky is some strange shade of yellow, and whatever it say goes.

We chuckled when SCO decided to start its Campaign of Stupidity by attacking IBM first in some kind of bizarre David versus Goliath. In this case, however, David is a 98 pound weakling with a severe case of osteoporosis, a weak heart, and only claims to have a weapon when in reality his hands are empty. Goliath, on the other hand, is decked out in Kevlar and drives a bullet-proof Hummer.

SCO then decided that the legal process was too slow, and thought it'd be a good idea to try to extort money directly from users of the Linux operating system before having even proved its case.

Not content for mild insanity, SCO has now decided to go all out, and go after none other the US Government.

Keep in mind that this is all based on SCO's claim that some of the source code to which it owns the rights made its way into the 2.4.x and 2.5.x series of Linux kernels. This is a claim that not only has not been verified, but about which SCO has refused to offer any insight at all into what the code is. The company is threatening users of Linux based purely on the basis of what it says is so, while not providing anyone access to information that could possibly prove them right.

No one at this company can possibly have even the slightest conviction that this course of action will be successful, so the question is, what is SCO trying to pull? Stock manipulation? To dirty the reputation of Linux? To go out in a good old fashioned blaze of glory? It's hard to tell, but whatever it is, it's sure to be ugly. It has been so far.

EE Times Article | Washington Technology Article

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