[d@DCC] Re: SCO Turns Up the Heat on Linux Users
russell at flora.ca
Mon Aug 18 14:12:37 EDT 2003
I would be helpful if articles on this issue clarified some of the
relevant legal and moral issues, which are not in SCO's favor.
Whether or not there is a copyright violation against code SCO purchased
the copyright for is under dispute, and this issue will eventually be
sorted out in the courts.
The fact that SCO's attempt to collect royalties is a violation of the
copyright of hundreds of other legitimate contributors to Linux is not
What SCO is attempting to do by violating the creative rights of
hundreds of software creators puts them morally below the worse imaginings
of the claimed violations against Business Software Alliance members.
SCO is a vendor and previous distributor of Linux who has now changed
their mind and is trying to kill the goose that layed the golden egg.
If the BSA was interested in protecting software copyright they would be
involved in this case providing legal assistance to the legitimate
creators of Linux. It is interesting that BSA member Microsoft has payed
SCO a license fee for undisclosed source code. This suggests to me that
Microsoft, and possibly BSA members generally, are not interested in
protecting copyright but only protecting their legacy "software
manufacturing" business model. They seem far more concerned concerned
about alternative business models than copyright infringement.
"Software manufacturing" is a historical way of looking at software as a
manufactured product that is created, distributed and sold on a per-unit
basis using business models that made sense with hardware. Free/Libre and
Open Source Software represents far more advance thinking around software,
recognizing that hardware-like business models are only a very small
subset of possible business models. There are many situations from a
public policy and business perspective where treating software like
hardware is highly inappropriate.
For more, see: http://weblog.flora.org/article.php3?story_id=458
Which says in part:
It should be noted that because of my support for copyright I have been
strongly advising customers and associates to not pay royalty fees to
SCO, no matter the outcome of any court cases. Whether or not SCO has
any copyright claims to Linux source code is under dispute, but the
contributions of all the other almost 450 contributors are not. These
people deliberately licensed their contributions under the GNU General
Public License which specifically disallows any contributor from
extracting license fees.
The GNU General Public License was designed very specifically to
protect Free/Libre software from the type of legal antics that SCO is
attempting. The license for Linux is such that it is royalty-free
Free/Libre software, or it is not copyable at all -- this is an
all-or-nothing situation where the only method to solve the problem is
for SCO to publicly disclose (not under a non-disclosure agreement as
they haven done so far) the alleged infringing code and allow the
community to replace it.
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
Governance software that controls ICT, automates government policy, or
electronically counts votes, shouldn't be bought any more than
politicians should be bought. -- http://www.flora.ca/russell/
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