SCO: GPL is destroying our value

Mixing James Bond video clips with analysis of legal contracts and source code, the SCO Group made its legal case over IBM's...

Mixing James Bond video clips with analysis of legal contracts and source code, the SCO Group made its legal case over IBM's alleged misappropriation of Linux source code to 650 developers and resellers at its annual trade show in Las Vegas Monday.

In a keynote address, SCO executives sought to portray their struggles with IBM and the Linux community as a fight for the future of proprietary software itself.

"We are defending and protecting our intellectual property rights, and this is a huge raging battle around the globe," said SCO chief executive officer Darl McBride. "We are fighting battles that are going to have an impact on all of you.

"At the end of the day, the GPL [the GNU General Public Licence software licence that governs Linux] is about making software free; it's about destroying value."

In March, SCO launched a lawsuit against IBM, claiming IBM had inappropriately contributed source code to Linux. Last week IBM countersued, and Linux distributor Red Hat launched a suit of its own against SCO.

McBride said the IBM lawsuit only came as a last resort after it became clear that IBM intended to "obliterate" SCO and its products. "It happened when we got pushed into a corner and had nowhere else to go," he said.

The relationship with IBM, which had historically been a channel for SCO's Unix software, began to sour in the autumn last year when SCO began developing plans to start charging for its Unix libraries for Linux, McBride said.

At that point, IBM threatened to stop letting its partners work with SCO, he claimed. "After we announced that, we were cut off from IBM," he said.

McBride compared SCO's struggles with IBM and the Linux community to a James Bond movie and SCO ran a five-minute clip of Bond actor Pierce Brosnan obliterating a small airport to underline the point.

The James Bond visuals and music, combined with McBride's anecdotes of attacks from the Linux community, and the presence of uniformed security guards lent the event an edgy air. "We will be subject to attack while we're here," McBride said.

"There are rumours of pies in the face for McBride and [SCOsource vice-president] Chris Sontag," he said.

Since the lawsuit, McBride said, SCO's offices had been picketed, its Yahoo Finance chat groups bombarded with messages to sell SCO's stock. He added that he had received a 2am prank call to his home number.

Sontag and  Mark Heise, a lawyer handling SCO's case against IBM, argued the company's legal case, reiterating their arguments that IBM's 1984 Unix licence with AT&T, later transferred from AT&T to SCO, gave SCO control over any derivative work developed on top of the original Unix code.

They argued that 1,549 files and more than a million lines of this derivative source code had been inappropriately contributed by IBM to Linux.

The non-uniform memory architecture, read copy update, journaling filesystem,  XFS filesystem, scheduler, Linux PowerPC, and enterprise volume management system contributions all constituted unauthorised additions to Linux, they claimed.

Sontag and Heise also presented some short snippets of source code that they claimed had been directly copied from SCO's Unix to Linux.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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