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Linux man points to more flawed SCO evidence

The SCO Group has scored zero out of two in its efforts to prove that its Unix software was illegally copied into the Linux operating system, according to Linux advocate Bruce Perens

Yesterday Perens said he had traced a second example of SCO's disputed code, saying that it was lawfully included in Linux.

The revelation came the day after Linux enthusiasts claimed to have proved that  SCO's first public example of copyright violations in Linux was illegitimate.

SCO had evealed the two snippets of code during a keynote address at its annual SCO Forum user conference in Las Vegas on Monday. The first snippet which, SCO claimed, was copied line by line from Unix into Linux, was published by German publisher Heise. The second example, claimed by SCO to be an "obfuscated", or a nearly identical copy, was obtained from SCO by IDG News Service.

At the keynote, SCO's senior vice president of SCOsource Chris Sontag claimed the snippets were just two examples of many intellectual property violations his team had found in the Linux source.

"We've been able to find these little needles in a Mount Everest-sized haystack," he said.

But these first two examples can be traced to the open-source Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) Unix, and not to SCO's AT&T Unix source code, and both are legitimately included in Linux, Perens said.

"I think that these are probably the best examples that SCO has to show and they're awful," he added. "They would not stand up for a day in court."

In March, SCO sued IBM claiming that IBM had inappropriately contributed code to Linux. Since then, SCO has widened its allegations about the nature of the improper contributions to Linux, and now maintains that source code belonging to SCO has been copied line by line into the Linux operating system.

SCO was countersued by IBM in early August, and has also been sued by Red Hat.

"The obfuscated code example is not SCO's property," said Perens. "It was developed by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab in 1993, under funding of the US government.  The code was added to SCO's version of Unix in 1995 or 1996, he maintained. "SCO took the [BSD] source code, lost the attribution, and now believes it's theirs."

SCO disputed Perens' claims, insisting that SCO owned the Unix [AT&T] System V code, and that SCO would, therefore, know what it looked like.

The obfuscated sample, which contains networking software, could have been legitimately copied in the Linux source code because it has been released under a BSD licence, Perens said.

But the code was created from scratch and not copied from any version of Unix, according to the Linux developer who contributed it.

Jay Schulist, a senior software engineer with Bivio Networks, says he wrote the 500 lines of code in 1997 as part of a volunteer project for the Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools in Wisconsin. "I used it for helping a local school district in my home town to connect their old Apple Macintosh machines to the internet," he said.

Schulist wrote the code, based on the publicly available specifications created by Lawrence Berkeley Labs, he said, adding that he has never seen the AT&T source code.

He expressed surprised that his contribution would be singled out by SCO.  "I have no idea why they would even choose my code," Schulist said. "If they had done any research at all, they would have realised that there was no way to implement the actual filtering engine."

Linux creator Linus Torvalds said, "I'm not removing Jay Schulist's code ... We can show where it came from, and there's nothing strange going on there."

Perens' code analysis can be found here: http://www.perens.com/SCO/SCOSlideShow.html

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service


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