Re: [ox-en] Impaired - is it SCO? preliminary thoughts.
- From: Russell McOrmond <russell flora.ca>
- Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 10:41:14 -0500 (EST)
On Mon, 27 Oct 2003, Martin Hardie wrote:
SCO say they own the System V (is that the one) UNIX that they go from
Novell. Much of the anti SCo stuff is based upon a confusion of legal
terms and ideas (it is anti FUD and as such not much more helpful than
FUD) but the details will all come out in the evidence.
I find this perspective interesting.
I summarize my perspective on the SCO case in my submission to the
Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in
relation to Canadian copyright reform:
Infringement still a problem, but with intermediaries
While FLOSS solves a problem relating to infringement by private
citizens, this does not mean we no longer need to protect our works
from infringement. The current legal battles surrounding The SCO
Group23 provide an example of the problems we must deal with.
Important to this case is a lack of understanding of FLOSS
methodologies either in the media or in the courts. With all the
lawsuits and counter-lawsuits it is far too easy to loose the forest
for a single relatively insignificant tree.
This is a case involving allegations by SCO against the Linux Kernel24
project of copyright infringement. To understand the case you first
need to understand how FLOSS projects work.
The Linux kernel as with most FLOSS projects is the open collaborative
work of literally hundreds of software developers25. Each of these
software developers retain their own copyright on their own
contributions. In order for all these different contributions to be
compiled together as one program each contribution has to be offered
in a license agreement that is compatible with each other. In the case
of the Linux kernel all contributions must either be licensed under
the GNU General Public License version 226, or in a license agreement
that is compatible with the GPL27. These software developers may also
offer their contributions to different users under different license
agreement terms, and many software developers do this.
In the current court cases there is a dispute as to whether The SCO
Group is one of those hundreds of contributors. The SCO group have
thus far not disclosed what part of the Linux kernel is allegedly
under their copyright, not allowing individuals or distributors of
Linux to remove any infringing code. There is also a dispute as to
whether The SCO Group intentionally contributed the code in a license
agreement that was compatible with the GPL, making any use of that
code in the Linux collection not infringing of their copyright.
What is not under dispute is the copyrights of the hundreds of
intentional contributors to Linux. What the SCO has asked for is a
royalty payment for their contribution, but for one contributor to
request a royalty payment is an infringement of the rights of those
hundreds of other copyright holders. Where The SCO Group has made the
situation difficult by not disclosing what part of Linux they consider
to be under their copyright so that the origins of that software could
be investigated, the other contributors to Linux are offering the most
transparent and accountable access to their software: the full public
disclosure of their source code contribution under a FLOSS license.
Let me know how and where you disagree with this if you do.
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
Governance software that controls ICT, automates government policy, or
electronically counts votes, shouldn't be bought any more than
politicians should be bought. -- http://www.flora.ca/russell/