Putting some meat on legal news' bones.

When you want to know more
about a legal story . . .
but don't know where to look.

IANAL. I am a paralegal, so if you have a legal problem
and want advice, this isn't the place. Hire an attorney
instead. Research is, however, what paras do, so here
I am sharing things I have found in my research.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

New Page for Copyright Information

This is to let you know that I researched and researched and researched all day and evening, and I've collected all the information I could find on the copyright in a separate, permanent page, which you can access by clicking on the "Copyright Info" link to the left. I can't promise that it's complete for reasons I detail on the page itself, but it's a start.

I don't know if it's possible to get carpal tunnel in the shoulder, but that's what I feel like tonight, so I'll save everything else I learned today until the next time, except for one thing.

I learned today that Dan Ravicher, who is an attorney with Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, and who wrote "Software Derivative Work: A Circuit Dependent Determination" which is available here as a pdf, is now pro bono counsel also for the FSF. I didn't know that, and I thought some of you coders out there might like to know.

comment [] 9:15:06 PM    

SCO Can't Go After Statutory Damages or Atty's Fees
For Newly Registered Materials, Says Copyright Office

I just spoke with an "information specialist" as they are termed, at the US Copyright Office. The office has them available to explain things, (202) 707-5959, M-F, 8:30 AM to 5 PM, EDT.

We walked through the copyrights, the old one and the new SCO Group one, and Skip told me that whatever is "New Matter" or "revisions" is copyrighted only as of the date of the filing. Whatever was filed in 1992 is covered since back then, but whatever they just filed is not. So the question is: what was registered back in the 90's (I see nothing later than that for Unix System Laboratories, Inc.) and what was just registered?

This means, he explained, that SCO couldn't go after statutory damages and lawyer's fees for any infringement that happened prior to the date of the new filing in June regarding any infringement of the "New Matter" or "revisions". They could still go after actual damages, but my, oh my, is that ever harder to prove. No wonder they aren't in a hurry to sue anyone. And here I thought they were turning over a new leaf. . . . not.

He explained some other details too, such as the fact that TXu means unpublished but registered, and that the "et al" in the new copyright record means that there were other revisions and filings after 1992. He also suggested Circular 61 as being the best explanation about registering a copyright, and you can get the pdf here. What would be important would be when the SMP, RCU, JFS, etc. functions were registered in UNIX System V, if they were. If anyone were in the Washington area, they could just pop over to the Copyright Office and go through the paper records and find out exactly who registered what and when, tracing the entire ownership history. They have experts there to help out. Anyone volunteer? If so, here are directions:

"The Copyright Office is open to the public Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., eastern time, except federal holidays. The Copyright Office is located in the Library of Congress, James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C., near the Capitol South Metro stop. The Public Information Office is in LM-401, and information specialists are available to answer questions, provide circulars, and accept applications for registration. Visitors must follow certain security procedures upon entry and exit. Access for disabled individuals is at the front door on Independence Avenue, S.E. All patrons using copyright records in public service areas are required to have Reader Identification Cards issued by the Library."

comment [] 3:27:54 PM    

IBM and FSF Respond

An article in Linux Today is very interesting. First FSF's Eben Moglen:

"Eben Moglen, professor of law at Columbia University and general counsel to the Free Software Foundation (FSF), though says there is absolutely no reason for anyone to buy SCO's license. 'Users don't need a license to use copyrighted programs anymore than they need to pay a copyright fee before reading Gone with the Wind. If you copy, distribute, or modify copyrighted material, then you can be in copyright violation.'

"But, he adds, if a distributor, such as Debian, were to agree to SCO's license, they would then be in violation of section 7 of the Gnu General Public License (GPL) . This section specifies that if legal 'conditions are imposed... that contradict the conditions of this License' you cannot distribute GPL protected free software."

Further, he says an end user is not responsible for a copyright violation. He offers to help too:

"Still, Moglen believes that, 'If SCO really wishes to enforce these claimed copyright rights. I would suggest that they sue a Linux distributor. If the FSF distributed Linux, I would welcome such a lawsuit.' And, speaking for himself and not the FSF, 'I have renewed my offer to assist free software developers who may feel the need for legal assistance' because of SCO's recent actions."

IBM also says it isn't aware of any UNIX System V code in Linux, according to Trink Guarino, IBM spokesman:

"'IBM is not aware of any Unix System V Code in Linux. SCO needs to openly show this code before anyone can assess their claim. SCO seems to be asking customers to pay for a license based on allegations, not facts.'"

comment [] 12:56:42 PM    

Here's the Copyright

This is the new one:

1. Registration Number: TX-5-705-356
Title: UNIX system V, release 4.1ES.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (20 p.) only deposited.
Claimant: the SCO Group, Inc.
Created: 1991
Published: 27Jun91
Registered: 30Jun03
Author on © Application: UNIX System Laboratories, Inc., employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028, et al.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: revisions.
Special Codes: 1/C

Here's the prior copyright it refers to:

Title: UNIX.
Edition: 5th ed.
Note: Computer program; with programmer's manual by K. Thompson, D. M. Ritchie.
Claimant: Unix System Laboratories, Inc.
Created: 1973
Registered: 25Mar92
Title on Application:UNIX operating system.
Author on Application: American Telephone & Telegraph Company (employer for hire)
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C

comment [] 10:25:51 AM    

RedHat Responds

RedHat has put up "An Update for Our Partners," in which it says SCO has "never approached RedHat concerning the claims they've made publicly" and saying they have "no knowledge of any infringing code":

"Red Hat's position remains unchanged. We are not a party to any lawsuit over UNIX code. No one has established publicly or in court that any UNIX code has been infringed. . . .

"Red Hat's position remains unchanged. We are not a party to any lawsuit over UNIX code. No one has established publicly or in court that any UNIX code has been infringed. We will continue to communicate with our customers and partners as appropriate."

To the question, "Do I need to buy a SCO license?" they answer:

"SCO has not demonstrated that any infringement exists, nor has it established that it owns derivative works in UNIX. Nothing has been proven to establish that such a license is needed."

They also state that instead of losing any customers, they generated 1400 new ones in the last quarter.

They say they remain committed to the open source model because, for one thing, if you can't see the code, can you know if it's really yours? They also say anyone with further questions can contact them at Don't abuse that process, naturally. It's clear they are directly this primarily at customers and partners.

My take on their statement -- and it's only a guess -- is that legal wrote or screened it, and that their position is that no copyright infringement has yet been proven. In other words, having a copyright gives you rights. But you do have to have some proof of copyright infringement to successfully go forward. Again, this is my best guess as to what this means. I have a call in to the Copyright Office to ask this very question.

comment [] 9:53:45 AM    

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Last update: 8/1/03; 5:52:18 AM. Creative Commons License
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