SCO puts Unix price on Linux licensing scheme

The SCO Group has put a price on the licensing scheme that it says will bring Linux users out of the sights of its lawyers.

The SCO Group has put a price on the licensing scheme that it says will bring Linux users out of the sights of its lawyers.

The charge, $699 (£432) per processor, is in the same price bracket as SCO's mainstream UnixWare licence.

SCO claimed the Linux source code contains unauthorised contributions, and in March it sued IBM for $1bn (£619m), claiming that the vendor had made some of those additions in violation of its Unix licensing agreement with SCO.

Since then, the company has widened the scope of its claims. It is now seeking more than $3bn (£1.9bn) in damages from IBM and maintains that Linux users themselves could be subject to lawsuits for illegally using SCO's intellectual property. 

SCO's announcement came a day after it was sued by Linux supplier Red Hat for "unfair and deceptive actions" relating to its claims about intellectual property violations.

The $699 per processor fee applies to server licences SCO planning to offer less expensive licensing options for desktop and embedded Linux users. 

The licence, SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux, lets users run the intellectual property claimed by SCO in binary form only.

"It gives you a licence to run the software only. You can't view the source, and you can't contribute it to an open-source product for everyone's use," a spokesman said. 

Open-source advocates have said that such a licence would violate Linux's GNU General Public License (GPL), which prohibits the Linux source code from being mixed with a licence like SCO's, but the spokesman disagreed.

"This is a licence that is designed to run in addition to the GPL," he said. 

SCO's price tag is too high, according to one industry analyst.

"That seems pretty steep to me," said Sageza Group analyst Charles King. "If they made this thing so cheap and so easy that it made more sense to pay it and not think about it anymore, they might actually generate some interest in it." 

By pricing its Linux licence fee in the same range as its UnixWare licence, SCO may prompt Linux users to demand that it first prove its allegations, King said.

"The enterprises that are deeply invested in Linux are going to say, 'OK, prove it,'" he said. 

Those users might have an additional reason to resist SCO's offer. A single-processor server licence will jump to $1,399 (£866) after 15 October according to SCO. 

Responding to Red Hat's legal action SCO president and chief executive officer Darl McBride said claims that SCO has not shown examples of infringing code in Linux were untrue.

"We have shown examples of infringing code in Linux to many different people, including some Linux advocates," he said. 

In addition, McBride said, SCO was not responsible for Red Hat's claim that it has lost business. "Rather, we suggest that Red Hat has adopted a faulty business model." 

"At issue here is more than just SCO and Red Hat," McBride said. "What is at issue is whether intellectual property rights will have any value in the age of the internet, where intellectual property rights can be simply taken without regard for rightful ownership." 

Robert McMillan and Linda Rosencrance write for ComputerWorld

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