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SCO CEO Posts Open Letter to the Open Source Community

Slams fundamental flaws in Linux development and lousy business model

In an open letter to the OS community, Darl McBride writes: 'The most controversial issue in the information technology industry today is the ongoing battle over software copyrights and intellectual property. This battle is being fought largely between vendors who create and sell proprietary software, and the Open Source community. My company, the SCO Group, became a focus of this controversy when we filed a lawsuit against IBM alleging that SCO's proprietary Unix code has been illegally copied into the free Linux operating system...' Read the full letter here:

The most controversial issue in the information technology industry today is the ongoing battle over software copyrights and intellectual property. This battle is being fought largely between vendors who create and sell proprietary software, and the Open Source community. My company, the SCO Group, became a focus of this controversy when we filed a lawsuit against IBM alleging that SCO’s proprietary Unix code has been illegally copied into the free Linux operating system. In doing this we angered some in the Open Source community by pointing out obvious intellectual property problems that exist in the current Linux software development model.

This debate about Open Source software is healthy and beneficial. It offers long-term benefits to the industry by addressing a new business model in advance of wide-scale adoption by customers. But in the last week of August two developments occurred that adversely affect the long-term credibility of the Open Source community, with the general public and with customers.

The first development followed another series of Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on SCO, which took place two weeks ago. These were the second and third such attacks in four months and have prevented Web users from accessing our web site and doing business with SCO. There is no question about the affiliation of the attacker – Open Source leader Eric Raymond was quoted as saying that he was contacted by the perpetrator and that “he’s one of us.” To Mr Raymond’s partial credit, he asked the attacker to stop. However, he has yet to disclose the identity of the perpetrator so that justice can be done.

No one can tolerate DDoS attacks and other kinds of attacks in this Information Age economy that relies so heavily on the Internet. Mr Raymond and the entire Open Source community need to aggressively help the industry police these types of crimes. If they fail to do so it casts a shadow over the entire Open Source movement and raises questions about whether Open Source is ready to take a central role in business computing. We cannot have a situation in which companies fear they may be next to suffer computer attacks if they take a business or legal position that angers the Open Source community. Until these illegal attacks are brought under control, enterprise customers and mainstream society will become increasingly alienated from anyone associated with this type of behavior.

The second development was an admission by Open Source leader Bruce Perens that UNIX System V code (owned by SCO) is, in fact, in Linux, and it shouldn’t be there. Mr Perens stated that there is “an error in the Linux developer’s process” which allowed Unix System V code that “didn’t belong in Linux” to end up in the Linux kernel (source: ComputerWire, August 25, 2003). Mr Perens continued with a string of arguments to justify the “error in the Linux developer’s process.” However, nothing can change the fact that a Linux developer on the payroll of Silicon Graphics stripped copyright attributions from copyrighted System V code that was licensed to Silicon Graphics under strict conditions of use, and then contributed that source code to Linux as though it was clean code owned and controlled by SGI. This is a clear violation of SGI’s contract and copyright obligations to SCO. We are currently working to try and resolve these issues with SGI.

This improper contribution of Unix code by SGI into Linux is one small example that reveals fundamental structural flaws in the Linux development process. In fact, this issue goes to the very heart of whether Open Source can be trusted as a development model for enterprise computing software. The intellectual property roots of Linux are obviously flawed at a systemic level under the current model. To date, we claim that more than one million lines of Unix System V protected code have been contributed to Linux through this model. The flaws inherent in the Linux process must be openly addressed and fixed.

At a minimum, IP sources should be checked to assure that copyright contributors have the authority to transfer copyrights in the code contributed to Open Source. This is just basic due diligence that governs every other part of corporate dealings. Rather than defend the “don’t ask, don’t tell” Linux intellectual property policy that caused the SCO v IBM case, the Open Source community should focus on customers’ needs. The Open Source community should assure that Open Source software has a solid intellectual property foundation that can give confidence to end users. I respectfully suggest to Open Source developers that this is a far better use of your collective resources and abilities than to defend and justify flawed intellectual property policies that are out of sync with the needs of enterprise computing customers.

I believe that the Open Source software model is at a critical stage of development. The Open Source community has its roots in counter-cultural ideals – the notion of “Hackers” against Big Business – but because of recent advances in Linux, the community now has the opportunity to develop software for mainstream American corporations and other global companies. If the Open Source community wants its products to be accepted by enterprise companies, the community itself must follow the rules and procedures that govern mainstream society. This is what global corporations will require. And it is these customers who will determine the ultimate fate of Open Source – not SCO, not IBM, and not Open Source leaders.

Some enterprise customers have accepted Open Source because IBM has put its name behind it. However, IBM and other Linux vendors are reportedly unwilling to provide intellectual property warranties to their customers. This means that Linux end users must take a hard look at the intellectual property underpinnings of Open Source products and at the GPL (GNU General Public License) licensing model itself.

If the Open Source community wants to develop products for enterprise corporations, it must respect and follow the rule of law. These rules include contracts, copyrights and other intellectual property laws. For several months SCO has been involved in a contentious legal case that we filed against IBM. What are the underlying intellectual property principles that have put SCO in a strong position in this hotly debated legal case? I’d summarize them in this way:

“Fair use” applies to educational, public service and related applications and does not justify commercial misappropriation. Books and Internet sites intended and authorized for the purpose of teaching and other non-commercial use cannot be copied for commercial use. We believe that some of the SCO software code that has ended up in the Linux operating system got there through this route. This violates our intellectual property rights.

Copyright attributions protect ownership and attribution rights –they cannot simply be changed or stripped away. This is how copyright owners maintain control of their legal rights and prevent unauthorized transfer of ownership. Our proprietary software code has been copied into Linux by people who simply stripped off SCO’s copyright notice or contributed derivative works in violation of our intellectual property rights. This is improper.

In copyright law, ownership cannot be transferred without express, written authority of a copyright holder. Some have claimed that, because SCO software code was present in software distributed under the GPL, SCO has forfeited its rights to this code. Not so – SCO never gave permission, or granted rights, for this to happen.

Transfer of copyright ownership without express written authority of all proper parties is null and void.

Use of derivative rights in copyrighted material is defined by the scope of a license grant. An authorized derivative work may not be used beyond the scope of a license grant. License grants regarding derivative works vary from license to license – some are broad and some are narrow. In other words, the license itself defines the scope of permissive use, and licensees agree to be bound by that definition. One reason SCO sued IBM is due to our assertions that IBM has violated the terms of the specific IBM/SCO license agreement through its handling of derivative works. We believe our evidence is compelling on this issue.

The copyright rules that underlie SCO’s case are not disputable. They provide a solid foundation for any software development model, including Open Source. Rather than ignore or challenge copyright laws, Open Source developers will advance their cause by respecting the rules of law that built our society into what it is today. This is the primary path towards giving enterprise companies the assurance they need to accept Open Source products at the core of their business infrastructure. Customers need to know that Open Source is legal and stable.

Finally, it is clear that the Open Source community needs a business model that is sustainable, if it is to grow beyond a part-time avocation into an enterprise-trusted development model. Free Open Source software primarily benefits large vendors, which sell hardware and expensive services that support Linux, but not Linux itself. By providing Open Source software without a warranty, these largest vendors avoid significant costs while increasing their services revenue. Today, that’s the viable Open Source business model. Other Linux companies have already failed and many more are struggling to survive. Few are consistently profitable. It’s time for everyone else in the industry, individuals and small corporations, to under this and to implement our own business model – something that keeps us alive and profitable. In the long term, the financial stability of software vendors and the legality of their software products are more important to enterprise customers than free software. Rather than fight for the right for free software, it’s far more valuable to design a new business model that enhances the stability and trustworthiness of the Open Source community in the eyes of enterprise customers.

A sustainable business model for software development can be built only on an intellectual property foundation. I invite the Open Source community to explore these possibilities for your own benefit within an Open Source model. Further, the SCO Group is open to ideas of working with the Open Source community to monetize software technology and its underlying intellectual property for all contributors, not just SCO.

In the meantime, I will continue to protect SCO’s intellectual property and contractual rights. The process moving forward will not be easy. It is easier for some in the Open Source community to fire off a “rant” than to sit across a negotiation table. But if the Open Source community is to become a software developer for global corporations, respect for intellectual property is not optional – it is mandatory. Working together, there are ways we can make sure this happens.

Best regards to all,

Darl McBride
CEO
The SCO Group

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Most Recent Comments
Jorge Pereira 09/09/03 09:38:34 PM EDT

I thought only journalists quoted things partially and out of context. Please read EXACTLY what Bruce Perens wrote, here:

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?cid=6905469&sid=77714&tid=88

Thomas M. 09/09/03 09:38:05 PM EDT

'Open Source community should focus on customers’ needs'
A number of points here:
1. It is open source, not Open Source. open source is not a company hiding behind closed doors making excessive amounts of money on shoddy software. It is not a company of suits who spend more time in meetings than developing. Thats the whole idea. If it doesn't work, it gets fixed. If you don't like the way yours works, you change it. Compare that to a corporate packaged product, shrink wrapped and mass produced, where if something doesn't work, thats too bad, because it works for 85% of "customers".
2. open source customers are the developers themselves. THATS THE WHOLE IDEA! If someone uses it, and it breaks, you dive right in, and fix it. If you don't know how, you should have bought the shrink wrapped box.

The open source community is not an it. The community is composed of millions of people who are not in it for the money, but for a working product.

Nathan Barclay 09/09/03 09:17:56 PM EDT

SCO is quite clearly just as guilty of software piracy as a mafia group who printed and sold counterfeit Windows CDs would be. They should be prosecuted as criminals accordingly.

- If the GPL is invalid, SCO has no valid license to distribute Linux or any of the other GPLed software they distribute, and are therefore guilty of software piracy.
- If the GPL is valid, the only way SCO could legally distribute Linux would be to distribute it under the GPL. Since SCO is not in fact distributing the software under the GPL (as evidenced by their claims of copyright infringement against Linux users), every copy they distributed after they made the choice not to abide by the terms of the GPL is clearly pirated.
- Since SCO's distribution of Linux is illegal regardless of whether or not the GPL is valid, they have no basis from which to argue that they have been acting in a good faith belief that they do have a legal right to distribute Linux as they have. The only way they could possibly claim a lack of criminal intent in their actions would be to claim ignorance, and considering how much has been written about the situation, it is hard to see how claims of ignorance could fly in court even to the limited extent that ignorance can ever work as an excuse.

It would be wonderful if law enforcement officials would show up at Darl's door and place him under arrest as leader of the SCO software piracy ring. Perhaps that might convince him to take other people's "intellectual property" as seriously as he does his own company's.

Bob Wilkinson 09/09/03 09:00:04 PM EDT

There is no point going over the misquote of Mr. Perens' comments, that has been beaten to death. The actual question of whether SCO's source code was used in Linux I can't speak on either, since I cannot see SCO's source code... for that matter no one else can. It is rather humorous, though, that SCO does not plan on releasing any of this code until the trial. At that point, it would be too late. If I understand American law correctly, any half-witted attorney would object to the use of the source code as evidence due to lack of disclosure, and SCO's ONLY evidence would be thrown out. Then again, I'm no lawyer.

However, I still do not understand the half-witted comments that Mr. McBride continually follows on his assertion that "Transfer of copyright ownership without express written authority of all proper parties is null and void." This is very true, however... assuming that the code in Linux DOES fall under their copyright, then:

(1) SCO was distributing Linux at the time of suing IBM.
(2) By distributing Linux, SCO was conciously agreeing to abide by the agreement of the GPL License agreement (in any other terms, actively accepting a contract. This is the same type of contract his company is requiring others to abide by in selling SCO's product).
(3) SCO continued to distribute Linux under said contract, which SCO consciously knew it must abide by, knowing full well that the distribution contained the "questionable" code.

With that, it seems obvious that SCO, by continuing to actively distribute what it claims to be its own product under the terms of a contract it willingly accepted, relinquished it's rights to said copyright in writing.

Only after was that brought up (after everyone else knew that SCO was breaking it's own proprietary rights) did SCO back of and say that they didn't knowingly do so.

Sure, Enron didn't know what it's company distributed, either.

Average Joe 09/09/03 08:17:20 PM EDT

to put it in really short terms, mr. mcbride is trying to make some sort of last resort retribution to save his failing company. the DDoS attack on SCO's site is well deserved. how dare he even ask the open source community to help point out the "perpetrators". in his view, open source needs a business model. wrong. thats just the point, open source is meant to be free for people to use and modify as they wish. as far as proprietary codes are concerned, red hat, mandrake and all the other distributions that require a licensing fee for use have done well, except for caldera aka SCO. mr mcbride, my request is that you stop chasing ghosts and give up the charade. this lawsuit of yours clearly is propostrous and is not doing anything positive for linux. linux should remain free just as it was intended to be.

Just looking 09/09/03 07:29:59 PM EDT

Bye, bye McBride.... Your fifteen minutes is almost up.

Your open letter is filled with desperate attempts to be "relevant". No such luck. SCO is a done deal, nothing left but to turn out the lights and take out the trash.

You see, I've noticed you have absolutely no notion of what Open Source is about. IBM gets it. HP gets it. Even Novell sort of gets it. Microsoft gets it all too well. Poor SCO doesn't get it.

It's like when someone tells a joke, and you don't get the punchline but you laugh anyway. Your open letter reads like that.

Never saw a business model quite like yours. Threaten your customers, sue your partners, and bill people who don't buy things from you. And you have suggestions for other organizations?

Thanks for the best wishes. My "best wishes" is you go to prision for a very long time with the rest of your leadership team and your handlers at Canopy. Let's keep a good thought.

tick, tick, tick, tick, tick....

spasmodaeus 09/09/03 07:25:36 PM EDT

Can't we all just be friends?

mike 09/09/03 07:11:17 PM EDT

If 'open source' sources are 'protected' by the GPL, then what right do others have to strip copyrights from SCO's sources as SCO is contending? If SCO's claims are true, then stripping their copyrights is equivalent to stripping the GPL copyrights and hence there is no value in a GPL 'license'. This is ironic, since a lot of open source activists seem to be against IP, copyrights and patents. The only way to know whether SCO is 'bad-mouthing' open source is to know the facts -- and I don't believe the facts have been established yet. Why don't we wait and see?

Group Captain Lionel Mandrake 09/09/03 07:06:40 PM EDT

Darl we need that recall code old boy...

Bear Pipe 09/09/03 06:56:35 PM EDT

How can Darl bad-mouth Open Source when Open Source applications like apache, sendmail and samba are at the core of SCO's own product?

Paul 09/09/03 06:38:04 PM EDT

I guess we should all follow the SCo business model now should we, because mc bride says linux wont become mainstream for large corporations to use, that makes sense why ibm, redhat, hp/compaq, dell, CA, valinux, hitachi, oracle, novell, wallmart and alikes dont have linux services/products (hahah laughs)

Hes very good and twisting and turning peoples quotes/information to suite his own needs, but weres the real proof, mcbride weres ur messiah now, champ ?

I dont even think they own all rights patents copyrights of unix like the opengroup says.

Regards

Paul

Duke 09/09/03 06:36:00 PM EDT

Lets explore Mr McBrides model - all IP is payed for - SCO's cut is $1200 per cpu - now lets add licencing costs for all the other contributers - we should be able to sell our product for about $3 Million per copy . . . I'm sure we will sell lots of copies and all make lots of money this way. This is obviously a much better buisness model than we have now, don't you agree ? (for people with no sense of humor, that was sarcasm)

Observer 09/09/03 05:41:13 PM EDT

Ever wonder why Microsoft purchased licensing rights from SCO only one week before SCO went on it's tirate?

I am willing to bet that with Microsoft "agreeing" (see court settlement) to disclose limited source code to select parties, they did not want to become included in SCO's impending lawsuits - as a defendant. SCO for that matter probably did not want to piss off BOTH IBM and Microsoft, who combined could crush them even more easily than IBM plans to.

Case in point was the glib vulnerability last year - Microsoft announced they were included in that vulnerability. Which shows that Open Source and other types of code show's up in their "proprietary" software.

John C 09/09/03 05:41:03 PM EDT

The name calling, etc. is a bit juvenile. Because of the rabid loyalty of some, it is extremely difficult to have a reasoned discussion.
The whole Linux thing is great, but it's not right if it is stealing someone's work. As a programmer, I wouldn't be surprised that there is plenty of 'borrowed' code in there. If illegal code is in there, lets get busy and clean it out instead of bitching and moaning. Then, lets put in place a system to keep this from happening again.

Paragraph 7 09/09/03 05:39:37 PM EDT

Yes Mr Mcbride IP sources should be checked, as they are with each entry in the open source community. They have done their due dilligence( a legal term you should learn more about) and verified the pedigree of all contributions. Clearly from the open theft that SCO has made of BSD software you have failed in that area. Again, charging a licence for another person's work( Linux) is no different that software or music piracy. Perhaps that is why your employees are draging their feet on selling those licenses you keep threatening.

Oh, by the way, in case your lawers failed to brief you. The SCO vs IBM contingency case has no legal basis and all your claims can be refuted in under an hour just by searching the web. The claim of 'don't ask, don't tell' is yours alone, perhaps it is an SCO policy that admitted BSD code into system V?. Your only repreive in the truth is that the case is out many months from now. I am surprise an injunction hasn't been placed against your and SCO for tampering with the jury through your press releases.

Norm 09/09/03 05:24:47 PM EDT

Congrates Darl,
That was very well weasel spoken.
You twisted peoples comments 180 degrees from what was actually said in every quote you made.

About your company mugging Linux, do you also hit up little old ladies for their social security checks? Oh, I forgot, you do mug little old ladies, with your stock manipulations.
In case you did not notice, Linux is a charity, The open source developers do this labor out of love, kindness and goodwill towards their fellow man, something you will never understand.

Repent Darl, while you can, money is not everything.
Norman Madden

Paragraph 6 09/09/03 05:23:19 PM EDT

Again Mr McBride you use a lie to justify your denial of service. SGI is the copyright holder of their code and are fully, legally allowed to extend usage rights to whomever they please. They chose to release it under the GPL in Linux. If you can prove in court that somehow SCO developed the SGI code then perhaps you have a case. But let's discuss the FLAW in the McBride process. Where Open Source developers stand firmly in the ground called legal you are working from an area called racketeering, stock manipulation, protection rackets among others. Please prove in court that one thing you have claimed is true before assuming that you have any basis for commenting on the open source model.

John 09/09/03 05:17:27 PM EDT

did anyone ever think that we should try to work on rewriting the ia64 tree JUST IN CASE SCO wins this battle, I understand that it's a 64-bit architecture, both system and userland, but we shouldn't just wory about what someone else has up their anus, we should wory about what happens if that stick inside the afore mentioned rectal apeture beats us with a "so there, empty that code out NOWWW!!!"

Hopefully it'll never come to that, but honestly with the advent of the ia64 cluster running at 11.8TFlps, can we risk losing the Open Source Model as put forth by our forefather of the OSI / FSF Richard Stallman.

Paragraph 5 09/09/03 05:16:35 PM EDT

Wrong again Mr McBride. Mr Peren's study proves that your company, SCO violated the BSD copyright and incorporated BSD code into Unix System V. In case you are counting on the article you claim to quote not being there you can read it here( you can read can't you?):

Reguarding your arguments abour SGI restrictions you should talk to them about that. It is their copyright after all, but then you have no problem with charging a licence for copyrights that you don't posess.

Paragraph 4 09/09/03 05:07:59 PM EDT

While I can agree that Dos attacks are disruptive your extension of including yourself and your company on the right side of the line is in error. Your legal and verbal attacks against Linux are in the truest military sense a denial of service attack. You have made false and misleading claims and provided no recourse to address or correct the wrongs you feign. Your denial of service attacks started with your bombastic claims filed against IBM and include a daily broadcast of press releases against the Linux community as a whole. You have threatened every user and reseller with legal action in an attempt to disuade them from using Linux. You have made wild claims against legally licened Linux source in an attempt to poison the Linux well and taint all Linux. So where the denial of service ( if it really did occur) slowed down the one or two customers that you may have left, your denial of service againg the Linux and Open Source communities continues to this day. Yes Mr McBride, stop your Dos against the Linux community.

Gideon 09/09/03 05:01:34 PM EDT

Looking through all the comments....it's pretty well 100% against SCO...I may have missed it, but I don't think there was _one_ person who agreed with this pathetic attempt at 'restoration'. Good on you all. It's unity like that, that'll make certain none of this crap makes it too far. Keep up the good work

-yet another pissed Linux user

Paragraph 3 09/09/03 04:57:55 PM EDT

Again Mr McBride you use a lie to make your point. Mr Raymonds never claimed that an open source developer caused your system to go down( perhaps it was one of your mass e-mailings to spread your tripe). If it was a Dos attack why didn't the Canopy group servers go down?

Indyindian 09/09/03 04:57:34 PM EDT

I used to use Caldera Open Linux as my flavor of choice. In the past 2 years I have switched to SuSE. I switched because SuSE seemed to be more progressive, and updated it's software more often, and offered it more readily.

Caldera became slow, older and stale. SCO comes along and realizes that they are eons behind. Rather than paying their people to upgrade their software, they decide to sue and accuse every one for the fact that they dropped the ball! This isn't about UNIX really. Or that maybe there might be a few lines of code copied from unix. This is just about money. They know it. They are not tech people they are corperate asswipes and and fart pipes. I pity them, and hope that after the Open Source community gets through with them, they crawl back under a rock and stay there until they are dead.

Rod 09/09/03 04:56:58 PM EDT

Frankly, I think Darl has Microsoft marketing slicksters and lawyers on retainer. Let's examine the books and see.

It might be worth it to buy a share of SCO and go on the rampage. What wold that cost me.....not much.

Brian Vincent 09/09/03 04:55:12 PM EDT

Darl -

I've gotta think that hiring engineers is cheaper than hiring lawyers. Why hasn't your company ever focused on making a quality product? I've been SCO certified, worked on dozens of SCO boxes serving as database servers to Internet gateways. It's a horrible, agonizing experience. The rest of the sys admins I worked with complained until we stopped being a SCO reseller.

Now, concerning your recent editorial, why should I believe a word you say based on your proven track record of outright lies and backpedaling? The simplest thing you could do would reveal your "proof" of copyright infringement. Until you do, every word you say is useless.

Paragraph 2 09/09/03 04:54:58 PM EDT

Wrong Mr McBride, the open source community never lost their credability despite the amature attacks on your site. Mr Raymond's never claimed to know who caused the attack. I have read his original letter and that is not what he said. He assumed it was a well versed developer but never claimed to know who actually attacked your site. This is again a good example of you use of lies in all your interactions.

LinuxEnthusiast 09/09/03 04:53:13 PM EDT

I understand that enough mis-informed companies have paid SCO's extortion fees that their third quarter actually shows a profit. I hope SCO saves that money to pay out on the class-action suits that are coming their way due to the illegally collected fees.

Who's ready to file the class-action agains SCO the INSTANT the case is decided?

Elmer J. Fud 09/09/03 04:50:00 PM EDT

It's really quite simple folks. Ask yourself (or someone else) how much money Microsoft has given to SCO recently for "UNIX licences"? Can you say "tool of the Microsoft FUD engine"?

--Elmer J. Fud

Nathan Hand 09/09/03 04:44:44 PM EDT

"Secondly, no-one seems to have answered the perfectly legitimate question about the open source development process - just how DO you ensure that code submitted by a developer HASN'T been ripped off, just because the developer claims that it hasn't? McBride IS right when he says that Open Source is still maturing and we DO need to look at, and answer these questions."

How do you ensure it in any project, open source or closed sourced? You ask the author. You assume they tell the truth. How else could you do it? There's no magic marker on code that says "this is owned by foo". There's no central code repository where you can check ownership of a fragment. If there's no attribution in the comments or the README then there's practically nothing you can do. It's not like the Linux developers have access to SCO's source code so they can check every submission, looking for violations. SCO keeps their code secret. The best that the Linux developers can do is assume the author is telling the truth.

But this is true for ALL projects. I've worked on commercial projects and I know full well that violations occur. I've seen BSD code dropped into proprietary products with the BSD attributions stripped out. SCO put a slide up at SCOForum... it was code stolen from BSD! SCO thinks it's theirs but the history of the code is well known and it most definitely has gone from BSD to SCO. A SCO developer stole it and assumed nobody would ever know. Why isn't SCO "respecting the IP" of BSD developers?

The reality is, Linux is far more "IP accountable" than any closed source product. If a company developing a closed source product copied code from SCO, would SCO ever know? Of course not. But any company can look at Linux source code to determine if violations occur. The Linux model encourages transparency and "no secrets". The result is that violations are infrequent (in fact, SCO is the first claimant ever and their case looks VERY weak).

It's the closed source model where the vast majority of IP violations occur but most of them go by unnoticed.

There is nothing "immature" about the Linux model. It is following best practises of the industry and then some. SCO is trying to paint a picture of "immaturity" because they want to win this case in the court of public opinion, but I have every confidence that they will never win this case in a court of law.

Paragraph 1 09/09/03 04:44:26 PM EDT

Wrong Mr McBride, you angered the Open Source industry because you lied about code being copied in. You used that lie as a basis to threaten 1500+ Linux users. You refused to allow the Open Source community to respond by hiding the source of your claims. Now you are caught in your lie and are trying to cover it with more of the same.

IP In Orlando 09/09/03 04:39:12 PM EDT

Given the delusional nature of McBrides rantings send him to Florida and we'll have him baker-acted for observation. He has had his moment in the press and should now go back to parking cars in Toledo. He doesn't respect people's IP or he wouldn't be trying to destroy Linux through verbal threats, inuendos. He isn't aware that when it comes to IP SCO is devoid of any that is worth more than historical value. He and SCO are the laughing stock of the industry right now. Given Mr McBride's contributions to SCO's image I would never hire anyone with SCO listed as a recient experience let alone purchase their products.

Anthony 09/09/03 04:26:05 PM EDT

Funny, how McBride wrties "But if the Open Source community is to become a software developer for global corporations, respect for intellectual property is not optional ? it is mandatory. Working together, there are ways we can make sure this happens." At the same time, he is unwilling to work together with the open source community to remove the source code and some of the employers and employees are making money off the companies stock. Sounds fishy!!!!!

Bob 09/09/03 04:23:21 PM EDT

Blah.Blah.Blah... Translation. Our company ain't doing all that well, so we will resort to litigation.

Zaurak 09/09/03 04:15:53 PM EDT

The rants by people like Eric Raymond didn't impress me. They persuaded me that the writers don't know as much about IP law (or the legal process) as they pretend to. So I thought I might learn something from this article.
The result?
Mr McBride has persuaded me that SCO is as full of shit as the ranting nerds say it is. Disappointing.

Travers 09/09/03 04:11:31 PM EDT

I get really sick of hearing corporate drones harping on about how "If Linux wants to make money it'll have to..." or "The only way Linux will succeed is...". Since when was the goal of Linux to please the enterprise customer, or the home user, or any user in particular? Why does it always have to come down to money for these corporations, and even America in general?

Quote: "... it is these customers who will determine the ultimate fate of Open Source ..."

Really? Enterprise customers will determin it's fate? Perhaps in the sense that they will provide cash to assist in development - but I wouldn't be as brash as to imply that without the assistance of the enterprise Linux wouldn't survive, that's just naive.

Blah, SCO, spend your money on something that'll help.

Travers

Dave 09/09/03 03:19:40 PM EDT

Darl,

I may, or may not have contributed to the Linux operating system at one point, or many points in time.

But I'm not telling.

Your company, at one point in time, distributed a version of the Linux operating system.

However, you did not verify with me whether or not your Linux distribution contained any of my code, as you say the Open Source community should (somehow) do.

So, the version of the Linux operating system you distributed may or may not have code I contributed.

But, I'm not tellin'.

However, it is clear from your letter that we should respect IP. Therefore, please send me the sum of, I dunno, say, US$1,000, and I promise I won't sue you.

Thank you very much. (I *do* like this new business model of yours, after all!)

jk 09/09/03 03:14:28 PM EDT

Dear, All Free People

I see a dinosaur holding on and lashing out before keeling over died. SCO is just wrong on so many levels and nothing they do or say will help. They are stuck in the big business mode and cannot change. They have been flailing to keep control of their market share for many years. This economy has pushed them to desperation and shady business practices. I would suggest we the world stand back a let them screw themselves out of existents. No one last long acting in this manner, well maybe Microsoft, but Linux is taking care of that slowly.
The SCO open letter angered me to the point that I'm taking time out of my day to write this response. Darl McBride has tried to fit the Open Source community into a neat little business friendly term. Darl McBride is way off base with those statements and they shows just how little he really does know about the Open Source community. If Linux is the business practice then why is SCO trying to tell us how big business works? I say move out of the way of die. SCO has nothing to offer they are old ways and old thinking. So their product is old and pricey. This economy will not stand for it and that drives them crazy. They cannot bring something new to the table so they take away from someone who offers a truly innovative technology.
SCO's main goal of screwing with Linux is attention. It reminds me of a small child acting out. The simple fact that he addressed the Open Source community further validates Linux's control over the majority of the computer world. Just because we will not abuse our power doesn't mean we won't protect it. His smug attitude towards Linux is sickening. Linux will never be controlled by the dick headed corporate stereotype that Darl McBride represents.
If Linux is to become big business it will be on it's own terms and not have anything to do with reelects like SCO. I hope one day those three letters will become a cliché.
I like to think that if these cases go to trial that SCO would show their source code to a third party not paid for by McBride. You can make any clams you like, but where is your source code. Anyone can view the Linux code that wants to. I say this to McBride "You have access to both source codes prove us wrong".
I have been enjoying Linux for three years now and when I see this crap flinging champagne it angers me. I couldn't stay silent after that letter. I felt like I owed that much to Linux. I think of Linux as a worldwide group of people. Not just an awesome free operating. To me it's much more. If I have said too much do not hesitate to put me in my place.

Daniel San 09/09/03 03:06:50 PM EDT

How long will they treat us as a corporation? The issue pops up again and again... as if we were a company. Show us the code. I'll even help change it... for free!

This is just discusting. All this IP stuff has been taken to all extremes to the point where no one really understands where is what. What is right from what is wrong is simply decided by the accuser. We have companies complanning that their stuff is copyrighted and therefore should not be copied... when they are making 85% profits on their products ;) Should we put rules about margin of profits too? To protect those using IP produducts?

I guess this rant will not go far. But I'm get getting fed up with all this IP junk. If it's not the RIAA, it is MPAA, or it's our new friend SCO.

I thougth IP was meant to protect the creator, not to rip-off the user.

Joe Borsits 09/09/03 02:51:55 PM EDT

I see it all so clear now.

What we should do is trust that a closed source company has not actually infringed on worked created by someone else. We should trust them just because they have millions of dollars and lawyers to back them up, even though we can't see the code because it is proprietary work and contains “Trade Secrets”.

I am new to the Linux community and have been following this SCO v. IBM issue for a while now. I am not a programmer. I am just Joe Average Desktop Support tech in an MS world looking for something different.

I think this Open Letter by Mr. McBride does nothing more then show the inherent flaws with software patents and closed source. With closed source you really have no way of knowing whose code you are using. With Open Source everyone can see it and the true origins of code can be identified.

I have seen the Open Source Community make several attempts to work with SCO to resolve whatever issues they may have, but SCO has rebuked these advances at every turn. Not because they are interested in IP rights, but because they are more interested in money. They are letting greed get the better of them.

The business model is not broken, SCO just could not make it work and got beaten by companies that could. SCO can not even claim to know the origins of there own code (http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/09/09/1062902037394.html ) yet they are pursuing litigation. You also have to question someone who doesn’t even know what they are selling. How could a company sell something that they have no knowledge of? Think about it. Is that good business?

Another thing that points to just a money grab by SCO, the fact that they are trying to collect money from people prior to having a Judgment in court. They are using nothing more then fear to this end by threatening litigation. In my mind if I were SCO, I would wait till I have the backing of a Judgment in my favor from the court before I tried to collect any money. I would also not be going after end users who purchased their products in good faith. I would be going after their vendors but that is beside the point.

One other thing that I have to admit I am very disappointed in, is McBride’s attempt to chastise the Open Source Community for the DDoS attacks that SCO has suffered. His statements are the equivalent of saying, “I was robbed by a Black Man, so All Black Men are bad.”

Randall P 09/09/03 02:44:57 PM EDT

daryll is spinning more FUD.

Their case is weak, and this SGI mention sounds like oops we sued the wrong company. Does any one have up a countdown timer to IBM vs SCO trial yet? Sort of like the old y2k days timers.

Jean-Sebastien Gasse 09/09/03 02:28:22 PM EDT

If they (SCO) are as selective at comparing code as D. McBride is in quoting Perens, we could probably find offending code PC DOS 1.0...

This is me! 09/09/03 02:26:25 PM EDT

Darly, you say:

"1. ANYONE with access to a highspeed line could commit a DOS attack on any company. How can you possibly blame the 'opensource community' for the actions of one person?!?!?"

It is well known in the security world that even a low-bandwidth source connection can kill a high-bandwidth target. 'smurf' and 'fraggle' attacks have historically been common ways for a script kiddie with a slow modem to bring down business-speed lines (T1 through partial/shared T3). New attacks that exploit the time it takes to reset certain connections can bring fiber connections to a crawl: Not because of the bandwidth required, but because of the resources needed to process the commands.

Kuni Lemmel 09/09/03 02:17:09 PM EDT

Mr. McBride is engaging in the latest American money making fad: Work the legal system, but do not adhere to the law. This way the folks that try to abide by law are forced to spend time on others unlawfulness. Both political parties do this to America's detriment; this is really just a case of monkey see, monkey do. In the end I suspect no one will benefit, 'cept maybe MSFT.

Dantek CS 09/09/03 02:12:29 PM EDT

McBride McBridge/ Stop acting like a two year old and grow up

This is me! 09/09/03 02:10:55 PM EDT

Darl sure knows how to pull quotes out of context. Mr. Perens says that the SCO group slide is shows code that is also found in System V although it was developed outside of System V, that the code is buggy and therefore doesn't belong in Linux, and that they DO have a right to use the code.

Darl makes it sound like System V is the source of the code, and that Linux does not have the right to use it. What a scammer.

Darl says:

"an admission by Open Source leader Bruce Perens that UNIX System V code (owned by SCO) is, in fact, in Linux, and it shouldn’t be there. Mr Perens stated that there is “an error in the Linux developer’s process” which allowed Unix System V code that “didn’t belong in Linux” to end up in the Linux kernel (source: ComputerWire, August 25, 2003). Mr Perens continued with a string of arguments to justify the “error in the Linux developer’s process.”

But Mr. Perens actually said:

" Slides 10 through 14 [of SCO's slide show] show memory allocation functions from Unix System V, and their correspondence to very similar material in Linux. Some of this material was deliberately obfuscated by SCO, by the use of a Greek font. I've switched that text back to a normal font.

In this case, there was an error in the Linux developer's process (at SGI), and we lucked out that it wasn't worse. It turns out that we have a legal right to use the code in question, but it doesn't belong in Linux and has been removed.

These slides have several C syntax errors and would never compile. So, they don't quite represent any source code in Linux. But we've found the code they refer to. It is included in code copyrighed by AT&T and released as Open Source under the BSD license by Caldera, the company that now calls itself SCO. The Linux developers have a legal right to make use of the code under that license. No violation of SCO's copyright or trade secrets is taking place. "

Storm Knight 09/09/03 02:02:44 PM EDT

Because of the way that linux recieves it's code. I would think that the onus of proof should be re-directed to the submitter of the code. If they cannot prove that it was sent in good faith. The submitter should be liable for damages. End of story. I think that being liable for millions in damages is the most effective deterrent plausable.

Mike Sharkey 09/09/03 02:00:11 PM EDT

buf*foon

Pronunciation: (")b&-'fün
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French bouffon, from Old Italian buffone
Date: 1585
1 : a ludicrous figure : CLOWN
2 : a gross and usually ill-educated or stupid person
- buf*foon*ish /-'fü-nish/ adjective

Sam 09/09/03 01:54:06 PM EDT

Mr McBride does have one good point. The few people who are attaching SCO's site are making the entire community look bad. I find it embarassing.

If you know someone, stop them. We can protect linux by knowledge, experience, and research. Not by using underhanded antics like SCO is doing now (pressure, fear, FUD,.. without substance).

The main thing for SCO is to show us the evidence. If he is honest and true about working with us to correct possible issues, then telling us each and every file they found in question should not be an issue.

Even if they tell us file.c function foo() without giving specific lines, we can research where they came from. I have already seen people doing this and have been amazed at the detail at which the linux community knows its code. If we are not sure about the module, we can have someone who has not seen the code, re-write it, or the module, based on specs/requirements.

If the are not willing to help us in this way, then they are just trying to hijack linux from us (like his partners have done to others in the past) and screw industry.

I also wish he would just shut up until the case comes to court and a verdict is handed down. With the economy as bad as it is we don't need ripples like this.

However, I personally think he is full of it and I wonder how many lawyers wrote his letter.

PrezKennedy 09/09/03 01:53:48 PM EDT

I read the first sentence and then it all turned into blah blah blah blah...

[email protected] 09/09/03 01:49:08 PM EDT

Poor Darl. He thinks that Open Source is about money. I suspect that few of us give a rat's ass about monetizing the development process. If people want to make money, fine; but this is about freedom. If Linux dies, it dies like it lives: FREE. I don't think that's going to happen though;)

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