GPL in SCO's Legal Sights.By Matthew Aslett
SCO Group The SCO Group, Inc. (TSG, informally SCO; NASDAQ: SCOX) is a software company formerly called Caldera Systems and Caldera International. After acquiring the Santa Cruz Operation's Server Software and Services divisions, as well as UnixWare and Inc has dismissed the open source General Public License, on which Linux is based, and maintained that its legal battle against IBM (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, www.ibm.com) The world's largest computer company. IBM's product lines include the S/390 mainframes (zSeries), AS/400 midrange business systems (iSeries), RS/6000 workstations and servers (pSeries), Intel-based servers (xSeries) Corp and Linux is part of a battle for the future of proprietary software.
The company said it had not wanted to involve the GPL See GNU General Public License.
1. GPL - General Purpose Language.
2. GPL - ["A Sample Management Application Program in a Graphical Data-driven Programming language", A.L. Davis et al, Digest of Papers, Compcon Spring 81, Feb 1981, pp. 162-167]. in its legal case against IBM, but was now responding to IBM's inclusion of the GPL in its response to SCO's claims of misappropriation misappropriation n. the intentional, illegal use of the property or funds of another person for one's own use or other unauthorized purpose, particularly by a public official, a trustee of a trust, an executor or administrator of a dead person's estate, or by any of trade secrets, breach of contract and unfair competition.
"We've been holding our tongue on the GPL until IBM put it on the table," said SCO's president and CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. , Darl McBride Darl McBride (born circa 1960) is the CEO of The SCO Group. He became the CEO of Caldera International on June 28, 2002, and during his tenure, Caldera renamed itself The SCO Group and, on March 7, 2003, initiated litigation against IBM regarding the intellectual property status of . "I predict that the GPL is not stable in its current form because copyright law pre-empts the GPL."
The company's vice president of worldwide marketing, Jeff Hunsaker, repeated that point of view. "We just do not believe that enterprise customers can bet their business on any operating system operating system (OS)
Software that controls the operation of a computer, directs the input and output of data, keeps track of files, and controls the processing of computer programs. that is based on the GPL," he said. "We believe this will all come to a head and something will break with the GPL."
McBride's comments came after SCO's legal representative Mark Heise, of the law firm Boies Schiller and Flexner, last week said that the GPL is pre-empted by US Copyright act which he said only allows single copies of a copyrighted product to be made.
Heise's earlier comments about the GPL have drawn an angry response from Eben Moglen, who serves as general counsel for the Free Software Foundation. "If it were true, no copyright license could permit the licensee to make multiple copies of a licensed program," he said in a statement.
"That would make not just the GPL illegal. Mr Heise's supposed theory would also invalidate the BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) The software distribution facility of the Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) of the University of California at Berkeley. , Apache, AFL AFL: see American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. , OSL OSL Open Source Lab
OSL Office of Student Life
OSL Open Source License
OSL Oregon State Library
OSL Order of St Luke the Physician
OSL Optical Stimulated Luminescence
OSL Oud Strijders Legioen (Dutch)
OSL Order of Saint Luke , MIT/X11 and all other free software licenses. It would invalidate Microsoft Shared Source license. It would also eliminate Microsoft's method for the distribution of the Windows operating system."
Despite the criticism of his statement, Heise repeated the claim. "We believe that the GPL is pre-empted by federal copyright law," he said. Heise also dismissed suggestions that the fact that SCO (The SCO Group, Lindon, UT, www.sco.com) A leading vendor of Unix operating systems for the x86 platform. SCO had also offered Linux, but abandoned the line in the spring of 2003. The SCO Group is the combination of two companies: Utah-based Caldera, Inc. distributed Linux itself under the GPL diminished its claims over IP.
"The fact that SCO was selling Linux didn't convert all of its copyrights," he said. "The fact that this stuff was in the Linux kernel wasn't known by SCO until recently. You can't inadvertently, accidentally give away your copyright," Heise added. "The GPL says that the legal copyright owner has to assign copyright to the GPL. SCO hasn't done that."
SCO's criticism of the GPL is reminiscent of Microsoft Corp's comments about the open source movement circa 2001, which has led some to suggest that there may be more than meets the eye More Than Meets the Eye was the three-part series premiere for the 1984 cartoon The Transformers. The three-part pilot was originally known simply as The Transformers to Microsoft's licensing of SCO's Unix code in May.
Hunsaker dismissed those suggestions as conspiracy theories and said the company's relationship with Microsoft was enabling the companies to develop interoperability between Unix and Windows, and that the two shared beliefs about the nature of software copyrights and intellectual property.
Hunsaker admitted, though, he could understand why some people would have questions about forming a relationship with Microsoft. "Sometimes a relationship with Microsoft can be a double-edged sword," he said. "It's a very interesting web that is woven with all the intricacies of a Microsoft relationship."
Hunsaker also admitted SCO was carrying out a deliberate plan to expand its fight with IBM and Linux into a debate over software IP ownership. "The reason we tried to elevate the discussion beyond SCO versus IBM or SCO versus Linux is because when you personalize the fight for partners and customers they realize that the notion of free software is going to put out of business a number of companies."
The fact that SCO is appealing to the pockets of its partners and customers was evident from McBride's explanation of the company's legal fight. "We're fighting for the right in the industry to be able to make a living with software," he told the company's partners and customers. "We are fighting battles that will impact everyone. We're protecting IP not just for us, but for you."
McBride once again likened SCO's battle to that of the recording industry attempting to stop people downloading content from file swapping web sites. "The music business has lost billions of dollars because of music file sharing See peer-to-peer network. on the Internet," he said. "That has the effect of destroying intellectual property.
"What fundamentally is on the line here is whether the market's going to move into free software or not," he added. "The whole notion that software should be free is something that SCO doesn't stand for. We've drawn a line."
Although SCO maintains it did not bring the GPL into the fight and it appears the company is now going to stick to its claim that its actions are about protecting intellectual property from free software. "This is a hill that we will defend," said McBride. "We will die on this hill before we will go away... but our plan is not to die."