[d@DCC] US Patent 5,838,906 Public Web Plugins / SCO/IBM/Microsoft/Linux/Samba/etc...
russell at flora.ca
Mon Sep 1 19:16:10 EDT 2003
I'm trying to build media interest in a few related issues, making
use of current events as an opportunity for public education.
There seems to already be media interest in the SCO copyright claim and
defamation issue, which has strong ties back to the patent issue and
general legal uncertainty. There is a general lack of public knowledge in
The defendant in one of the SCO cases is IBM. IBM is not a protector of
the FLOSS community or a protector of the rights of software creators
generally given that they are the largest supporter (and holder) of
In the Eolas v. Microsoft case relating to US Patent 5,838,906 the
defendant is Microsoft. While both IBM and Microsoft appear to be on the
right side of these particular cases, our community needs to remember that
old phrase that an enemy of an enemy is not a friend.
To understand the situation we are now in you only need to remember that
Caldera (now SCO after they bought that name/company) is a Linux company
that was once seen as a hero. Caldera took on Microsoft with the DR-DOS
anti-trust suit, and provided an important migration path for Novel
servers to Linux.
With the Microsoft case settled, and Novel offering their own Linux
support, Caldera is entirely focused on other litigation as their business
model. They are now trying to bite the very hand that feeds it.
Caldera owes its very existence and any success to the FLOSS community.
Caldera is still very dependent on FLOSS for their current product/service
lines, having just announced the incorporation of the Samba3 release into
their latest OpenServer product. Samba is an Open Source/Free Software
suite, licensed under the GNU GPL, that provides seamless file and print
services to SMB/CIFS clients.
As for the current defendants against inappropriate litigation, if it
were not for the aggressive government lobbying by both IBM and Microsoft
we would not be in a situation of such legal uncertainty that the software
sector finds itself today. We need incentives for innovation, not
Software patents represent yet another aspect of an overly simplistic
legacy way of looking at software as if it were the same as hardware which
is "manufactured", distributed and sold on a per-unit basis. Prior to the
1960's software was not sold separately from hardware. When software and
hardware were separated we saw the beginning of a rift in the industry
between those who wanted to continue to treat software the same as they
did the hardware/software bundles, and those who recognized that software
is entirely unlike hardware in ways that allowed for many more
opportunities and choice in the creation, distribution, and funding of
While patents make sense for manufacturing processes to create hardware
or other tangible goods, those who treat software as a manufactured good
are only a subset of the software industry. To enact public policy as if
they were the entire of the industry is to cause considerable harm to
innovation and the economy as a whole.
Microsoft, IBM, and other BSA members are so opposed to (and scared of)
alternatives to the "software manufacturing" business model that they have
lobbied to derail meetings at organizations such as the World Intellectual
Property Organization on open collaborative models to develop public
In their own words:
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an
international organization dedicated to promoting the use and
protection of works of the human spirit.
It should be obvious that such a meeting should be held at WIPO if they
are to attempt to fulfill their mandate, which is not to be a
protectionist organization for the benefit of a small subset of businesses
and business models.
Some relevant links:
Canadian Linux Interests Coalition (focused on SCO issue)
"Patents a virtue for IBM?"
More on the plugins patent:
Different information process patent, same public policy failure:
"Canadian patent holder claims global e-commerce rights"
OSAIA to Administration: Open Source IS protected by copyright.
See also: http://ca.samba.org/samba/samba.html
* (19th Aug, 2003) SCO use of Samba code under the GPL
Over the past few months, the SCO Group (formerly Caldera
International, Inc. a Linux distribution vendor) has been
complaining about violations of its Copyright works by the Linux
Recently, Darl McBride, the Chief Executive Officer of SCO has been
making pejorative statements regarding the license used by the Linux
kernel, the GNU GPL. In a keynote speech he recently said:
"At the end of the day, the GPL is not about making software free;
it's about destroying value."
In light of this it is the depths of hypocrisy that at the same
event SCO also announced the incorporation of the Samba3 release
into their latest OpenServer product. Samba is an Open Source/Free
Software project that allows Linux and UNIX servers to interoperate
with Microsoft Windows clients. The reason for this is clear; Samba3
allows Linux and UNIX servers to replace Microsoft Windows NT Domain
Controllers and will add great value to any Operating System which
includes it. However, Samba is also developed and distributed under
the GNU GPL license, in exactly the same manner as the Linux kernel
code that SCO has been criticizing for its lack of care in ownership
We observe that SCO is both attacking the GPL on the one hand and
benefiting from the GPL on the other hand. SCO can't have it both
ways. SCO has a clear choice: either pledge not to use any Open
Source/Free Software in any of their products, or actively
participate in the Open Source/Free Software movement and reap the
benefits. For SCO to continue to use Open Source/Free Software while
attacking others for using it is the epitome of hypocrisy.
The strength of Open Source/Free Software is that it is available to
all without restrictions on fields of endeavor, as the Samba Team
believes the ability to freely use, modify and learn from software
code is one of the grounding principles of computer science, and a
basic freedom for all.
Because of this, we believe that the Samba Team must remain true to
our principles and our code must be freely available to use even in
ways we personally disapprove of.
Even when used by rank hypocrites like SCO.
Jeremy Allison, Marc Kaplan, Andrew Bartlett, Christopher R. Hertel,
Jerry Carter, Jean Francois Micouleau, Paul Green, Rafal Szczesniak,
Jelmer Vernooij, Volker Lendecke. Simo Sorce
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/
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2003 19:19:23 -0400
From: Colin J. Williams
Reply-To: cpi-ua at vancouvercommunity.net
To: CPI-UA-Universal Access <cpi-ua at vcn.bc.ca>
Subject: [CPI-UA] US Patent 5,838,906 Public Web Plugins
W3 opened a discussion site yesterday, already there have been 43
It seems as though this decision could undermine the "World-Wide" Web.
Information is available from the w3 site:
For (un)subscription information, posting guidelines and
links to other related sites please see http://www.digital-copyright.ca
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