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General Public Licence threatens software market, claims SCO chief

SCO Group chief executive officer Darl McBride has enlisted the help of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to bolster his arguments against the open-source GNU General Public Licence (GPL) and Linux during a keynote address at the cdExpo conference in Las Vegas.

McBride said that the value of the worldwide software market would approach $229bn by 2007, according to WIPO data, and that it was being threatened by the ideas behind the Free Software Foundation's GPL, the software licence governing Linux.

"The world, especially here in America, is shifting to one that is an information society ... In the future, is that $229bn in software still going to be there? Or, in the case of the Free Software Foundation's goal, is proprietary software going to go away?"

Attendees were handed a WIPO primer on intellectual property law entitled "Intellectual Property: A Power Tool for Economic Growth". The pamphlet had been shipped to SCO by WIPO free of charge.

McBride likened the notion of free software to a variety of movements, including file sharing, the dotcom bubble, and even free love. He predicted that the proprietary and open-source worlds were on a "collision course" that would ultimately result in the end of the GPL licence.

IBM was to blame for the threat to the GPL because it had raised the issue of GPL violations in an August lawsuit against SCO, McBride claimed. That suit was filed in response to a lawsuit filed by SCO against IBM in March that claimed IBM's contributions to the Linux operating system violated IBM's Unix licence.

"There is no doubt that the GPL is at risk right now, but let's all keep in mind the history of this. We are not the ones who put it there. That came from IBM," he added.

SCO also announced that it expected to take a charge of almost $9m during its fourth quarter, which ended on 31 October, for legal costs related to its Linux litigation. The money will be used to pay legal costs relating to a new lawsuit that will be brought against a Linux user within the next 90 days.

McBride also took time during his keynote to defend his management, saying that he had cut SCO's quarterly losses and restored the company's value from a low of $6m to its current value of more than $200m, despite intense pressure from both the computer industry and Linux users.

He said that before SCO's $3bn lawsuit with IBM, he had been warned that "if we started talking about IP infringements inside of Linux, the company would be crucified by the Linux community".

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service


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