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First reported here, contact Fairfax for reprint rights to Sam Varghese's SMH articles.
From: Leon Brooks <leon@$THISDOMAIN> Organization: CyberKnights - modern tools, traditional dedication To: "Kieran O'Shaughnessy" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: I want to know what's actually for sale Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 11:38:32 +0800 User-Agent: KMail/1.5.3 Message-Id: <200401201138.32040.leon@$THISDOMAIN>
The SCO Group in the person of Kieran O'Shaughnessy announced on 19 January 2004 that:
The SCO Intellectual Property (IP) License permits the use of SCO's intellectual property, in binary form only, as contained in Linux distributions.
What intellectual property?
If SCO ANZ can't _specifically_ identify any significant portions of The SCO Group's intellectual property in a timely manner in any of the Linux distributions which CyberKnights deploy, we must assume that SCO ANZ is making fraudulent claims and must in defense of CyberKnights' good name vigorously pursue public acknowledgement of fault and material redress from SCO ANZ.
Linux distributions which CyberKnights currently have deployed include, so far, Mandrake (up to 9.2), Debian (stable and testing), Red Hat (7.3, 8.0, 9.0 and Enterprise), Fedora (1.0), SuSE (9), Gentoo and Knoppix (3.2, 3.3).
Take notice that even if SCO ANZ substantiates this somewhat nebulous claim to ownership-through-contamination of software not designed or written by them, a binary-only licence would be of limited use to me since some deployments require the use of source code in rebuilding a kernel, specifically for drivers whose intellectual property claims appear to conflict with SCO ANZ's and whose evidence of ownership is somewhat more substantial.
As a Director of CyberKnights Pty Ltd, I personally know and trust several contributors to the Linux kernel, including the original author, Mr Linus Torvalds. As of three days ago, Linus told me that he knows of no substantial code in his Linux kernel source code tree which could possibly be subject to ownership claims by The SCO Group.
Linus has been consistently truthful and unambiguous in all of the accessible public and personal statements which I have been able to locate. The SCO Group has a well-documented history of ambiguous and often surprising claims, contradictions and retractions. On this basis, I find it unreasonable to do other than prefer to trust statements by Linus in favour of statements by The SCO Group or any of its branches, agents or other minions.
In short, the burden of proof lies with The SCO Group. Unless and until SCO ANZ demonstrates serious and specific substantiation of the claims it makes in this announcement, CyberKnights Pty Ltd does not believe that it is using The SCO Group's property at all, and therefore refuses to even consider paying any licence fees.
The SCO IP License is currently available at introductory pricing of AUD$999.00 per server processor and AUD$285.00 per desktop processor.
This would more than double the customer's cost per server, including the hardware, for most of the servers which CyberKnights installs, and for no material advantage. In our eyes these properties make it an unreasonable demand.
If SCO ANZ were to demonstrate ownership of substantial Linux code, the only viable alternative such pricing would leave CyberKnights is to reinstall a system other than Linux on customers' machines - such as FreeBSD - involving considerable disruption to customer services.
MS-Windows is too unstable, insecure and expensive, and opens privacy and control concerns which are unacceptable to several of my customers; SCO's own Unix offerings are pitifully feature-starved, too expensive, and recent versions appear to include driver code stolen wholesale from other authors without acknowledgement; Sun are a licencee of The SCO Group and CyberKnights could not in good conscience use software licenced from a company which appears to be unreasonably greedy, unpredictable and apparently disrespectful of the intellectual property of others.
Forward looking statement safe harbor:
The weaselly disclaimer which followed does not provide SCO ANZ with a safe harbour. Threatening letters demanding monies with menaces can hardly be thought to be defused by statement to the effect that enforcement of the unambiguous claim to fees is yet future and might possibly not be followed through.
That this disclaimer is placed among the notes for editors well after the content of the announcment is delineated with the line "ends" is a fairly clear indication that it is not a part of the announcement proper.
If CyberKnights has not recieved clear, precise and substantial identification of the specific code which SCO ANZ claims fees from us for by 01 February 2004, we will begin our defense by referring the matter to the appropriate legal authorities, and vigorously pursue a positive resolution from there.
-- http://cyberknights.com.au/ Modern tools; traditional dedication http://plug.linux.org.au/ Committee Member, Perth Linux User Group http://slpwa.asn.au/ Committee Member, Linux Professionals WA http://linux.org.au/ Past Committee Member, Linux Australia
Replace $THISDOMAIN with cyberknights.com.au to reconstruct the original text. Some headers have been deleted for clarity and simplicity.
How many other cases exist where [company] has included third party technology in it products, but has also taken the cheaper licensing option and left developers and even users exposed to the threat of lawsuit? Due to the closed nature of the proprietary business model, how can third party developers even check? — NZheretic on LWN
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