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IANAL. I am a paralegal, so if you have a legal problem
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Friday, August 22, 2003

Slashdot Translation Snips of the Heise Interviews

Obviously, I can't vouch for the accuracy, except that it seems to match the computer translation, except for making good English sense, so here it is:

c't: Mr. Sontag, the code sequences shown by you on the forum have been analyzed by experts. Result: Silicon graphics inserted them into Linux, not IBM

Chris Sontag: That is right. This example is not from IBM, but another of our licensees. At the moment, I cannot comment on who it is.

c't: The copy is supposed to go much further back than your rights on Unix. Moreover, it is said to have already been distributed by AT&T under the BSD licence, therefore freely accessible, and could have entered into Linux that way.

Sontag: That's completely wrong. We posess all files of this code with the complete source tree (lit: pedigree) in all version, up to the origin in 1969. We have looked through all tapes and all versions of the code. The code in question dates from exactly the version of Unix System V which we have delivered to SGI and licenced with a signed contract. This version was at the disposal of the licensee, and it was never in BSD or other releases. And the letter-by-letter copy of this version is found in Linux. We want to point out such flagrant breaches.

c't: But this evidence is useless in the dispute with IBM?

Sontag: Correct.

c't: Why then are you demonstrating exactly this code publicly as evidence? You are sueing IBM.

Sontag: We found several kinds of breaches of copyright and of contracts. Literal copying of code was the most obvious kind, and we wanted to prove this as well. Therefore, we have shown it in the public talk, and demonstrate the example also unter terms of an NDA. In the case of IBM, we have not yet found such cases of verbatim copying, but we have not examined everything yet. With IBM, this is above all about a different kind of breach of contract, namely the transfer of derived results on a very large scale. The licensing agreement provides that all changes and derived products remain within the originally licensed body of work. . . .

Darl McBride talked about the authorship of SGI of the code examples demonstrated by SCO, which Chris Sontag didn't want to confirm. In his interview with c't, the head of SCO was less shy in naming names.

c't: The code examples you demonstrated are said to be entered into Linux by Silicon Graphics, not IBM

Darl McBride: That's right, these were examples for literal copying from Unix into Linux, which happened at SGI.

c't: Does SGI have to prepare itself for a billion-dollar law suit?

McBride: Possible. For sure they're not on the safe side. But currently, we are fully focusing on the IBM case, this takes enough of our energy and ressources. . . .

c't: Others have made their decision for Linux already a long time ago, especially public governments. In Europe, as well as in China, there's big support for Linux. Don't you fear negative consequences from that side?

McBride: That is thinkable, but it can't stop us from getting our rights. By the way, we have just hired Gregory Blepp from SuSE for international business. He's from the Linux side and is supposed to help us with international business development.

c't: You are acting fairly belligerent on this forum. You declared war against open source, since it becomes destructive for the software industry. Does the whole movement have to die so that a few software companies can live well?

McBride: Actually, that was more aimed at the GPL, not open source as a whole. There's a lot of very valuable effort in open source. But the extreme interpretation that nobody himself owns anything that he developed himself, that can't remain like this. With this, created value gets destroyed. The GPL must change or it will not survive in the long run. I have discussed with many exponents of the open source side about this already.

c't: And what did they tell you?

McBride: The spectrum of views is very broad. Let's put it this way: With some, I could discuss reasonably about the fact that a software company needs to earn money. But not with all of them, I could find a common denominator.

comment [] 3:37:31 PM    

MontaVista on Embedded Linux: Not to Worry

Embedded Linux specialist MontaVista Software is assuring embedded Linux customers in the strongest possible terms:

"MontaVista said IA-32 and IA-64 account for less than 20 percent of all embedded deployment and that a large portion of embedded Linux projects were deployed with and still run on embedded configurations of the 2.2 Linux kernel. Also, MontaVista said that for its part, it only includes architecture-specific, application-relevant code in MontaVista Linux for each architecture and board it supports.

"Additionally, the firm said, 'There is no real intersection among portions of kernel code that changed between 2.2 and 2.4 AND code that possibly contains SCO-contested code AND that are relevant to embedded (i.e., diskless, headless, small footprint, non-enterprise) applications.'

"Finally, it noted that high-end, embedded systems that do, in fact, employ enterprise-class features, like SMP and library emulation, account for less than 10 percent of all Linux deployments.

"'Consequently, the total possible scope of SCO's claims would cover less than 10 percent of all embedded Linux configurations,' MontaVista said. 'Based on our practices and those of our embedded industry peers, we believe that even an estimate of 1 percent would be optimistic on SCO's part. Why then, does SCO insist that ALL embedded Linux deployment is subject to their licensing demands. . . ."

"Meanwhile, MontaVista added that it protects its customers from technical and legal risks through warranties on all editions of MontaVista Linux and indemnification against claims involving the code it creates and delivers. Additionally, the firm argued that until SCO files another suit, only IBM bears any financial risk from the current legal battle: 'Open Source legal authority Lawrence Lessig points out that OEMs are effectively protected by IBM's position that neither trade secrets nor copyrighted material were disseminated into Linux. If the courts agree with IBM, no OEM would have to pay SCO; if the courts favor SCO, any award granted to SCO from IBM would settle SCO's claim -- they would not be able to charge twice (IBM and you) for the same IP,' the firm said.

"MontaVista maintains that SCO has shown little evidence of its claims.

"'MontaVista agrees with the majority of opinion in the Open Source and business communities that SCO is very unlikely to prevail in this lawsuit,' it said. 'To date, SCO has provided no real evidence to back up any of its claims, and has pointed to no specific programs that it feels were misappropriated.'"

From SCO's preferred alternate universe, they disagree. Unless you use only 2.2, they say you should "consider" a SCO license.

Today's Funniest Headline

Computerworld has today's funniest headline: "SCO Could Face Uphill Battle in Drawing New Customers". And from that story, here is my favorite quotation from all the interviewees as to whether they would consider any of SCO's new product line:

"Ronald Edge, manager of information systems for Indiana University's Intercollegiate Athletics Department in Bloomington, said the SCO lawsuit and legal battles have left him unwilling to review the company's latest wares. Besides, he said, SCO's dearth of Unix development and products over the past couple of years makes it difficult to trust the company's new road map.

"'Because of this lawsuit, I would never have anything to do with them as vendors,' he said. 'I feel a harsh, bitter Norwegian cold equivalent to hell toward SCO.'"

Why, me too! Are you paying attention, Microsoft? Here's another angle, from Tom Yager's Weblog, in which he points out that even if the president or CEO decides he'd like to consider SCO's products, there will likely be some geek maneuvers to route around that decision:

"Let's go from the boardroom to the cubicle. How does SCO think IT purchasing decisions are made? SCO has rendered itself radioactive to all involved in, or benefitting from, open source. Every major technology purchase has to be signed off by the company's technical staff, more so in lean times when every purchase is scrutinized.

"It's amazing how inventive geeks can be when they're determined to freeze a black hat vendor out of their shop. Their bosses will get well thought out, purely technical and objective analyses explaining why SCO, and those marching with it, are not a good fit for the project at hand."

comment [] 2:47:20 PM    

An Open Letter to Microsoft: Don't Bother

Dee-Ann LeBlanc reports that Microsoft is saying they will fight Linux with "rational truth". I take it they wish to distance themselves from the SCO fiasco. Well, who wouldn't want that now? But, as she points out, MS funded them with millions, and we remember. And they still want to fight.

MS evidently still has not learned the bigger lesson from the SCO soap opera, which is that fighting GNU/Linux is a losing proposition. Here's why. People all over the world love the software. And they don't love you, Microsoft, so barring martial law and Bill Gates or his best friend as Emperor, you can't kill it or taint it or coopt it or buy it or give your own products away or sell them for less or any other trick that worked for you in the past. Stumped? Maybe you are thinking patents. Don't bother.

What you think is your biggest gun, and it is, is just another work-around issue to GNU/Linux coders. If you come up with one, they'll rip it out and write something else. Then you'll pull out another. Same solution. Speaking for myself, I'd even do without certain functionality if necessary. I'm not crazy about that .NET concept anyhow. As for Palladium and "trusted computing", well, thanks but no thanks. I prefer to control my own computer. You can forget your forced security updates too.

Meanwhile, while you are attacking Linux, your name is mud and more mud. Don't care? You will when the anger against you leads to an overhaul of the IP laws. I do predict that if this nonsense keeps up, because the anger ordinary mortals like me, who ordinarily don't get involved in anything, are feeling is so huge they are willing to do whatever is in their hands to ethically and legally do. That's the difference between us, that last part. You might try adding "ethical and legal" to "rational truth" and see how it works for you.

That isn't even going into the likelihood that an IBM will pull out some of its patents to protect Linux if you attack with your patent portfolio. You know, Bill, there isn't a company in the world that isn't violating somebody's IP. You know why? Because software code is math. Complicated math, but math just the same. There are only so many ways to say 1 + 1 = 2. I know you know this.

One of these sweet days, enough people will finallly understand this, and they will say to each other, "Patents aren't a good fit with software. Why did we let Microsoft and other large software companies land grab like this? The only result is a restriction on innovation by the rest of us." You know how much you believe in innovation, huh? That'll be a PR challenge you can't win. And that'll be the end of the patent hussle.

Law is based on what people think is fair and appropriate. In a democracy, at least, that is the idea. And when you get so many people so mad, it's trivial to predict the result to you if you attack the GNU/Linux community in your typical smarmy way.

One last thing: it's too late. You waited too long, just like you missed the internet and never caught up as a result. If you had attacked GNU/Linux a couple of years ago, you might have won. But it's too late now that Unilever, and IBM, and Merrill Lynch, and the city of Munich and the government of China have "gone Linux", not to mention that anti-trust spotlight shining on your every move. All you can do now is offer a better product, behave yourself so people won't hate you so much, actually innovate, and try to win fair and square. What a concept.

And Bill, one last thing. You know what else we're getting sick of? Corporations making money or trying to gain a competitive advantage from lawsuits. Consumers take a look and realize: what does this do for me as a consumer? Jack up prices to pay for the attorneys. That's it. These lawsuits you proprietary folk think of as normal business are a disgrace and show us all that companies that do this aren't thinking about their customers one bit. Here's one customer telling you: I won't buy from a company that acts this way, given free will. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

You know one of the many things that we love about GNU/Linux? They just keep coding and innovating and acting decently and they don't sue each other. I don't see Red Hat suing Mandrake. Does that mean problems never crop up? No. But they tend to get worked out without going to court, because the entire emphasis in the community is on getting the job done while retaining integrity as a company and as individuals. The worst that normally happens is a flame war. You're welcome to try that.

Oh, I forgot. You already do that, only you have to pay people to post on Slashdot, pretending they aren't employees, or at least that's the impression we get. Still not quite on the same page, are we? Well, work on it, or go out of business. Those are your choices. No. Really.

Speaking of rational truth, here's its evil stepsister, the claim by McBride that their code adds up to more than a million lines of code:

"Earlier statements by McBride indicate that SCO code didn't begin showing up in Linux until the 2.4 version. According to David Wheeler's analysis of the total lines of code in Linux, the kernel grew from 1,526,722 lines in version 2.2 to 2,437,470 lines of code by release 2.4.2.

"If McBride's latest unsubstantiated claim is to be believed, the Linux kernel developers didn't actually contribute any new lines of code to the 2.4 release. It all would have had to come from SCO."

comment [] 11:58:06 AM    

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