SCO: One million lines of Linux ‘stolen’

19 August 2003 SCO Group has made its most thorough and emphatic presentation yet of its case against systems giant IBM over claims that the open source operating system Linux contains misappropriated code.

The presentation was made to 650 developers and channel partners at its annual user conference in Las Vegas, Nevada and helped flesh out SCO’s claims after months of confusion, claim and counter-claim.

Chris Sontag, vice president of SCOsource, SCO’s intellectual property licensing arm, claimed that 1,549 files amounting to more than one million lines of code had been contributed by IBM to Linux — the clearest indication yet of the scale of SCO’s complaint.

In a marathon two-and-a-half hour keynote address to the SCO user conference, CEO Darl McBride also claimed that he and the company had been subject to intimidation since the filing of the lawsuit in March. SCO’s offices had been picketed, stockholders urged to sell their holdings and McBride said that he had been subject to late-night crank phone calls.

However, McBride also pitched the company’s legal battle as a fight against ‘free software’ that ‘destroyed value’: “We are defending and protecting our intellectual property rights… At the end of the day, the GPL [general public licence] is about making software free. It’s about destroying value,” he said.

SCO’s claims pitch SCO squarely in a legal battle against IBM and will wrest on two licensing issues. First, is the Unix licence that IBM bought in 1984 that SCO claims gives the licensee control over any derivative work developed by IBM on top of the original code.

Second is the legal validity of the GPL under which Linux is distributed.

This may be a more problematic area for SCO Group, given past public statements by its own former CEO Ransom Love when the company was called Caldera and, indeed, distributed its own version of Linux under the open source GPL — containing the very code that SCO now says has been stolen from it.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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