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Friday, May 23, 2003

Somebody Doesn't Grok the GPL

I can't help but wonder if SCO has actually read the GPL, or if they have, if they understand it fully. This extraordinary interview with SCO's Chris Sontag reveals that he truly does not understand what their releasing of their own Linux product under the GPL both before and after the lawsuit means to their case. For example:

QUESTION: "Finally. Somebody raised a possible problem that you yourselves distribute the infringing code under the GPL licence. Do you see that as a problem from your point of view?"

SONTAG ANSWER: "No we do not, because you do not have an infringement issue when you are providing customers with products that have your intellectual property in them."

In the same interview, he claims they do have "problems" even with the kernel. And he says: "There is code written which came through from AT&T Unix system labs, some written when the Unix source was under the control of Novell and some written under the control of SCO. All of that work, that body, is owned by SCO. And SCO is the owner of the Unix operating system."

This raises another issue he may not have thought through: there is a lot of BSD code in AT&T UNIX. Maybe he needs to read the settlement terms of the BSD lawsuit. The following was posted to an article on Newsforge and then reposted on Slashdot:

"As people may recall from the original settlement of the BSD lawsuit, three files had to be removed from BSD that represented things in SysV source. What is often forgotten, though, is that AT&T itself was in a far greater bind because while there was some SysV code in BSD, there was a LOT of "borrowed" and misattributed BSD code found to be in AT&T SysV. BSD permits this, but the license at the time required the advertising clause, and AT&T fraudulently ignored this. The actual settlement said that AT&T would no longer sue the BSD people, and that the University of California would also agree to hold AT&T harmless for misappropriating BSD code. Hence, much of the code that SCO owns is actually misattributed BSD code for which UC permitted AT&T (and it's decendents) to use."

"Now much of Linux also shares code derived from ancestrial BSD sources or people who have worked in common on both, and I am sure many of the same ancestrial routines still found today at the core of SysV are in fact also BSD derived. Hence, where common code may exist, it's code that AT&T originally misappropriated, and that SCO is free to use and relicense from the AT&T/BSD settlement, but in point of law neither AT&T nor the current SysV owner has actual legal copyright over. Perhaps the regents of UC could hall these SCO scum back into court, as they are in fact in material breach of the AT&T/BSD settlement if SCO now claims copyright "ownership" of that originally misappropriated code since the settlement gave AT&T no such rights."

The interview with Sontag also indicates what the "infringement" may be, in their eyes. Sontag compares the basis of their complaint not so much to actual lines of copied code but to obfuscation of code, like a writer who "will hijack a paragraph here or there or rework it a little bit to try and make it look as though it was not your work, it was their own. But you can tell they have moved things around so it doesn't look like it." However, this is direct contradiction to what SCO is quoted as saying in Business Week where they claim they have found verbatim code: "If you look at the code we believe has been copied in, it's not just a line or two, it's an entire section -- and in some cases, an entire program. "

However, Chris De Bona, the man Linus Torvalds suggests should be on any panel set up to review the code, says even if similar (as opposed to verbatim) code were found, it could just be evidence of convergence, not infringement: "In millions upon millions of lines of code, you can likely expect that in two completely different codebases with much of the same desired outcome (OS, printer driver, whatever) you'll find similar code segments."

Meanwhile the Open Group points out that they own the trademark UNIX, not SCO.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an interview with FSF's Bradley Kuhn, in which he says: ""Most of the core GNU components are all copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation and distributed under our auspices under GPL. SCO's right to redistribute them, and Linux too, is the GNU GPL and only the GNU GPL....FSF holds documents from SCO regarding some of this code. SCO has disclaimed copyright on changes that were submitted and assigned by their employees to key GNU operating system components. Why would SCO itself allow their employees to assign copyright to FSF, and perhaps release SCO's supposed 'valuable proprietary trade secrets' in this way?"

At the same time that SCO is attacking Linux and GNU tools, it's of interest that the SCO web site as of today is running on Linux, according to Netcraft.

2:55:41 PM    

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