SCO picks a battle with users too

The SCO Group's accusation of copyright infringement against enterprise Linux users is an indication of the open source operating system's maturity, a local user says.

The SCO Group’s accusation of copyright infringement against enterprise Linux users is an indication of the open source operating system's maturity, a local user says.

Rob Herries, IT manager at Housing NZ, says it’s not the first operating system to feel some legal heat.

"When the Windows platform got a lot more mature, there were a lot of copyright issues too,” Herries says. “I’ve been expecting something like this for a while, because all mature products seem to go through this these days, rightly or wrongly.”

SCO, already immersed in a legal battle with IBM over contract rights to Linux, claims enterprise Linux users are infringing its Unix copyright. SCO says it will indemnify users who buy licences for SCO’s UnixWare product “for use in conjunction with any Linux product.”

CEO Darl McBride says recent Linux versions contain code for running on multiple processors that belongs to SCO.

“Enterprise use of any Linux distribution based on the 2.4 Linux kernel contains software code that was misappropriated from Unix,” he told a teleconference last week.

McBride blamed “IBM and others” for shipping Linux without warranting the intellectual property it contains, saying they had passed the “legal liability and associated costs” onto their customers.

“SCO is trying to find ways to help customers solve this problem, balanced against our own legal rights to stop infringing uses of Linux,” he said.

Asked how much a UnixWare licence would cost Linux sites, McBride said SCO would start talking with enterprise Linux users about pricing. “We’re going to get out with more detailed publication of that pricing model, but we can tell you that it’s benchmarked up from our UnixWare licensing structure that’s out there today,” he said.

Rob Herries, however, is dismissive of SCO’s claims. “It’s FUD.”

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