SCO Demands Licensing Fees For Linux Embedded Devices, US Government

Yesterday, we brought you an article looking at SCOis 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 companyis 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, SCOis intellectual property claims over Linux remain contested by other parties.

"We believe it is necessary for Linux customers to properly license SCOis [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 shouldnit 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.