Linux free of copyright violations, says insurance group

A start-up company looking to provide legal insurance against open-source software copyright claims has declared the Linux kernel...

A start-up company looking to provide legal insurance against open-source software copyright claims has declared the Linux kernel free of copyright infringement.

Open Source Risk Management (OSRM) said it cannot find any copyright violations in the 2.4 and 2.6 Linux kernels, counter to claims from The SCO Group.

SCO is suing IBM and other Linux users, claiming the Linux operating system violates its Unix copyrights.

"We are saying that SCO has no copyright claim," said Daniel Egger, founder and chairman of OSRM. "We think they will lose."

OSRM also announced it will offer indemnification on legal costs for open-source software, priced at about 3% of the desired coverage, for example, $1m of legal protection for $30,000 a year.

Open-source developers can also receive $25,000 worth of legal protection for $250 a year. The indemnification packages will be supported by OSRM's new Open Source Legal Defence Centre, which has contracted with intellectual property lawyers across the US to defend copyright claims against Linux.

OSRM's legal experts studied the Linux code for six months to hunt for potential copyright violations and found none after tracing the origins of Linux's code. It checked the Linux kernel against an undisclosed number of Unix software packages. As a result of those checks, the company is comfortable offering indemnification against Linux copyright claims, Egger said.

The OSRM insurance package is more of a shared legal defence fund than a traditional insurance package.

While the SCO lawsuits gave Eggers the idea for the OSRM open-source insurance, the SCO actions illustrate a larger need for insurance against copyright claims on open-source software, he said.

Grant Gross writes for IDG News Service

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