[Linux-aus] I want to know what's actually for sale

Leon Brooks leon at cyberknights.com.au
Tue Jan 20 11:39:02 UTC 2004

The SCO Group in the person of Kieran O'Shaughnessy announced on 19 
January 2004 that:
> The SCO Intellectual Property (IP) License permits the use of
> SCO's intellectual property, in binary form only, as contained
> in Linux distributions.

What intellectual property?

If SCO ANZ can't _specifically_ identify any significant portions of The 
SCO Group's intellectual property in a timely manner in any of the 
Linux distributions which CyberKnights deploy, we must assume that SCO 
ANZ is making fraudulent claims and must in defense of CyberKnights' 
good name vigorously pursue public acknowledgement of fault and 
material redress from SCO ANZ.

Linux distributions which CyberKnights currently have deployed include, 
so far, Mandrake (up to 9.2), Debian (stable and testing), Red Hat 
(7.3, 8.0, 9.0 and Enterprise), Fedora (1.0), SuSE (9), Gentoo and 
Knoppix (3.2, 3.3).

Take notice that even if SCO ANZ substantiates this somewhat nebulous 
claim to ownership-through-contamination of software not designed or 
written by them, a binary-only licence would be of limited use to me 
since some deployments require the use of source code in rebuilding a 
kernel, specifically for drivers whose intellectual property claims 
appear to conflict with SCO ANZ's and whose evidence of ownership is 
somewhat more substantial.

As a Director of CyberKnights Pty Ltd, I personally know and trust 
several contributors to the Linux kernel, including the original 
author, Mr Linus Torvalds. As of three days ago, Linus told me that he 
knows of no substantial code in his Linux kernel source code tree which 
could possibly be subject to ownership claims by The SCO Group.

Linus has been consistently truthful and unambiguous in all of the  
accessible public and personal statements which I have been able to 
locate. The SCO Group has a well-documented history of ambiguous and 
often surprising claims, contradictions and retractions. On this basis, 
I find it unreasonable to do other than prefer to trust statements by 
Linus in favour of statements by The SCO Group or any of its branches, 
agents or other minions.

In short, the burden of proof lies with The SCO Group. Unless and until 
SCO ANZ demonstrates serious and specific substantiation of the claims 
it makes in this announcement, CyberKnights Pty Ltd does not believe 
that it is using The SCO Group's property at all, and therefore refuses 
to even consider paying any licence fees.

> The SCO IP License is currently available at introductory pricing
> of AUD$999.00 per server processor and AUD$285.00 per desktop
> processor.

This would more than double the customer's cost per server, including 
the hardware, for most of the servers which CyberKnights installs, and 
for no material advantage. In our eyes these properties make it an 
unreasonable demand.

If SCO ANZ were to demonstrate ownership of substantial Linux code, the 
only viable alternative such pricing would leave CyberKnights is to 
reinstall a system other than Linux on customers' machines - such as 
FreeBSD - involving considerable disruption to customer services.

MS-Windows is too unstable, insecure and expensive, and opens privacy 
and control concerns which are unacceptable to several of my customers; 
SCO's own Unix offerings are pitifully feature-starved, too expensive, 
and recent versions appear to include driver code stolen wholesale from 
other authors without acknowledgement; Sun are a licencee of The SCO 
Group and CyberKnights could not in good conscience use software 
licenced from a company which appears to be unreasonably greedy, 
unpredictable and apparently disrespectful of the intellectual property 
of others.

> Forward looking statement safe harbor:

The weaselly disclaimer which followed does not provide SCO ANZ with a 
safe harbour. Threatening letters demanding monies with menaces can 
hardly be thought to be defused by statement to the effect that 
enforcement of the unambiguous claim to fees is yet future and might 
possibly not be followed through.

That this disclaimer is placed among the notes for editors well after 
the content of the announcment is delineated with the line "ends" is a 
fairly clear indication that it is not a part of the announcement 

If CyberKnights has not recieved clear, precise and substantial 
identification of the specific code which SCO ANZ claims fees from us 
for by 01 February 2004, we will begin our defense by referring the 
matter to the appropriate legal authorities, and vigorously pursue a 
positive resolution from there.

Cheers; Leon

http://cyberknights.com.au/     Modern tools; traditional dedication
http://plug.linux.org.au/       Committee Member, Perth Linux User Group
http://slpwa.asn.au/            Committee Member, Linux Professionals WA
http://linux.org.au/            Past Committee Member, Linux Australia

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