SCO looks to channel for license sales

The SCO Group has announced the local availability of its SCO Intellectual Property License, but its channel partners are hardly chomping at the bit to promote it.

The controversial “license” permits the use of what SCO claims is its own intellectual property, hidden within the code of popular Linux distributions. Priced at $999 per server processor and $285 per desktop processor, SCO claims the license enables customers to properly compensate SCO for the Unix source code, derivative Unix code and other Unix-related intellectual property within Linux distributions that SCO claims to own.

SCO’s regional general manager, Kieran O’Shaughnessy, said he was yet to make any final decision on which distributors would sell the licenses. But national sales manager of MPA Systems, Tim Pearce, said that the company would begin selling the licenses to resellers by the start of February.

At the time of publication, managing director of SCO’s other distributor Tardis, John Anderson, said he would consider SCO’s proposal and expects to make a decision by the end of next week.

“We are making [the license] available to the market through a limited number of resellers," O’Shaughnessy said. "There is a significant amount of training and information that needs to be passed on to these resellers. We are trying to control the flow of information."

Finding enthusiastic resellers might prove a bigger challenge.

Director of SCO reseller Rivercity Solutions in South Brisbane, David Schultz, said the company had not been approached by any interested customers as yet.

“I don’t think it is something we will actively market, but we will sell it to a customer if they approach us to buy it,” he said.

Managing director of SCO reseller CustomTech in Sydney, Gordon Hubbard, agreed: “If we have clients that really want to buy these licenses, we will sell them. That is just meeting the customer’s need. But in general we advise customers that it is not necessary at this point in time.”

As a reseller, Hubbard said it was hard to oppose or endorse the license to customers.

“My opinion is not a legal opinion,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to me to be a good case. If the customer wants to be sure, they will need to get their own legal opinion.”

Hubbard is also the treasurer of the Australian Unix and Open Systems User Group (AUUG), but said the independent organisation was yet to determine its position on the matter, pending legal advice.

“It is certainly an issue of concern among members and we are discussing how we should respond,” he said.

Hubbard’s position is also complicated in that he is a former Caldera (now SCO) employee, having served as regional manager for Australia/NZ, South East Asia and India between 1999 and 2001.

“I think they are making a mistake,” he said. “I am glad not to be involved. I do think they are going down the wrong track, and that they are legally at the point of no return. It would be good to have this resolved as cleanly and as soon as possible.”

One SCO reseller that would promote the licenses is Sydney-based Dattatech.

Managing director, Gavin Matthews, said the company would back SCO’s efforts, even though 10 per cent of Dattatech’s IT services business was based around the Linux platform.

“To date, I have seen no reason not to back [SCO’s] efforts,” he said. “While we won’t be enforcing the licenses and knocking doors down, we have had some customers ask about pricing and availability to ensure corporate compliance. Our initial communications with SCO suggest to me that it won’t jeopardise any of our relationships [in the Linux community].”

For more on SCO, see next week's issue of ARN.

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