Notable updates on recent events involving SCO (Nasdaq - 'SCOX') and its continuing mission to piss off every computer user on the planet.
As mentioned the company has seen a decline in the success of its products over the last few years. To counter this, an initiative within the company called SCOsource was created to boost revenue by licensing the source code of UNIX System V; which SCO may or may not own the copyrights and patents on. (more on that later)
Anyway, this is what Caldera says about SCOsource:
"SCOsource is a new business division to manage its UNIX® System intellectual property. The charter of the new division is to create new and innovative licensing programs to meet the changing demands of today's market and to protect its intellectual property asset.
SCO is the owner of the UNIX Operating System Intellectual Property that dates all the way back 1969, when the UNIX System was created at Bell Laboratories. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, SCO has acquired ownership of the patents, copyrights and core technology associated with the UNIX System. The SCO source division will continue to offer traditional UNIX System licenses to preserve, protect and enhance shareholder value."
That's what the official line is, others may claim SCOsource was nothing but a division of politically-correct extortionists from the beginning, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
As implied, this initiative, or perhaps this line of thinking, would take SCO down a path that will make them pretty much universally hated in geek culture, or at least linux geek culture.
One of the first things they did was sue IBM for $1 billion. (Minor digression: Greedy corporations aside, lawyers have an obnoxious tendency to pull large round numbers out of their ass when deciding how much to sue for, just to impress people.) The quick and dirty of their case is that SCO alleges IBM stole code from UNIX. Perhaps from an SCO/IBM joint venture called 'Project Monterey' that IBM pulled the plug on. The reporting I've heard alternately says that either IBM breached SCO's copyright, or IBM breached contracts with SCO by sticking some amount of unnamed code into their Linux work.
The case is complex, and its details are not entirely know, mostly because SCO will not reveal exactly what source they allege IBM took. If the case actually goes to trial and SCO actually wins (Anonymous experts put the probability of this very near 0) the court records will likely be sealed and we will never know what IBM allegedly copied.
Shortly after the filing the IBM suit, SCO stopped selling its Linux distro. They then sent a letter to 1,500 companies that stated they may by liable for using Linux; and that they should perhaps consult their lawyers as to the legality of their use of Linux. SCO claims there may be pre-existing IP issues (entirely unrelated to the IBM case) involving SCO's UNIX source code. In fact, when pressed for details later they contend that there are significant amounts of stolen code in the Linux kernel. If true, this is obviously a very Bad Thing.
An interesting side argument made by many Linux supporters is that if SCO was distributing the contested code in its own Linux distro, then its owner, SCO, placed the code under GPL. Moreover, weather they did this inadvertently or not doesn't matter, the code would now be GPL by default. However this argument cannot be validated without further information.
While all this is going down Microsoft purchases a UNIX license from SCO for no small amount of money. In fact, Microsoft's license, coupled with one other license to an unknown company, gave SCO "$8.8 million in cash and added $6.1 million to gross margin". Without this licensing they would have been in the red.
Microsoft's intentions in doing this are a source of much spirited debate within the slashdot community. Are they simply bankrolling SCO's FUD as to Linux? Are they making their own UNIX-Windows hybrid? Is Bill Gates the antichrist?
Microsoft of course, claims business as usual, nothing to see here, return to your homes.
- That was all in one week -
Next, Novell steps in on the side of Linux and claims that while it gave SCO sole distribution rights to UNIX, it never transferred any of the UNIX copyrights and patents. They also state that SCO has been asking for this transfer for some time. Novell also asked that SCO show exactly what Unix source had been copied into Linux, something SCO does not want to do. Speculation as to why they are reluctant to do this generally comes to one of two conclusions, either A) Their IP violation claim is non-existent or B) If they reveal which code is copied, the offending code will be promptly removed form Linux and replaced, thus weakening their case.
In a response to Novell the same day (May 28) SCO says:
"SCO's lawsuit against IBM does not involve patents or copyrights. SCO's complaint specifically alleges breach of contract, and SCO intends to protect and enforce..."
In this press release SCO does not directly dispute any of the specific claims made by Novell, undoubtedly needing time to research them. SCO CEO Darl McBride says separately "It was very clear in our minds that we already purchased that." (CBS Marketwatch, May 28 2003)
The same CBS Marketwatch article contained the line: "McBride added that unless more companies start licensing SCO's property, he may also sue Linus Torvalds, who is credited with inventing the Linux operating system, for patent infringement"
This of course, pissed off everyone even more, but it is important to note that the statement was not a direct quote. McBride later backed down somewhat, saying in a news.com.com story:
...that targeting Torvalds is unlikely. "Virtually we see no reason why that would ever happen," McBride said. "We're not trying to go down that path."
SCO now says it will revel the code in Linux that was stolen in early/mid June to a select group of people. Undoubtedly having them sign NDA's first so they will not reveal what areas of the Kernel are contested to the people who can fix it. The plot thickens.
On May 30 a news.cnet.com article contained the headline: "SCO Group executives said Friday that the company's copyright dispute with Novell doesn't affect Its legal campaign against Linux, but they'll probably sue Novell anyway."
You gotta love to hate these guys.
That's were it stands now. Further updates as events warrant.
Gah, had to create an account just to do this write-up, would have thought an event that's getting so much play on /. would surly have already been noded. ps, this turned out to be a lot longer than I realized.