was in the news a lot this week. Why should DailyKos readers care? Because SCO is arguably waging an attack against free speech by trying to derail Linux.
Fortunately justice may be catching up with SCO. Read on for the latest developments...
- SCO announced its first quarter earnings this week, and the results weren't good. Despite over $3 million in legal fees for the quarter, its SCOsource operation — which is trying to extract payments from companies for intellectual property "licenses" — netted $20,000 in total revenue before expenses. (No, that's not a typo.) Depending on GAAP or Pro Forma reporting, SCO lost anywhere from about $0.15 to $0.45 per share for the quarter.
- SCO filed suit against two Linux users: AutoZone and DaimlerChrysler. In the first case, SCO alleges that its former customer is using parts of SCO UNIX (libraries) to run the Linux version of its retail operations software. The proof? AutoZone's switch from SCO UNIX to Linux was too easy. AutoZone's project leader posted to Groklaw a detailed refutation of SCO's allegations. In DaimlerChrysler's case, SCO was upset because the company did not reply to SCO's threatening letter. (That's pretty much it, actually.) SCO public relations spin notwithstanding, neither suit has anything to do with alleged Linux copying of UNIX code.
- The judge in the IBM-SCO case ordered SCO — again — to provide IBM with all the lines of code SCO claims were copied by Linux from UNIX System V. The judge also ordered SCO to list their public releases of those lines of code and the terms under which they released them. This last bit is important because SCO sold a distribution of Linux (called Caldera Linux) under the GPL (GNU Public License), so it seems strange indeed that SCO can now claim ownership over lines of code in Linux which the company has already released to the public under open source. ("Oh, we didn't really mean THAT license"?) Moreover, it's doubtful whether SCO will be able to find lines of code in Linux copied from UNIX System V. And in the unlikely event that's possible, Linux developers are ready and willing to change any such lines (and can probably do so virtually overnight). And then there's the question of damages, and it'll be very hard to prove any damages given that, even if Linux is proved not to be 100% original, it'll be darn close.
- Red Hat's lawsuit against SCO is proceeding well... for Red Hat. SCO claimed, in essence, that Red Hat was not rational in fearing that SCO would sue its customers. Then SCO proceeded to do precisely that, and Red Hat filed a (brief) motion which essentially said, "Your honor, obviously SCO is full of shit as you're well aware."
- Novell's suit against SCO is proceeding as well. Novell is asserting that SCO doesn't actually have the UNIX rights it claims. (Novell now owns SuSE, one of the largest Linux distributors.)
- Microsoft is known to have supplied funding to SCO, but it looks like that funding is perhaps as much as ten times the amount known previously. One of SCO's leaked e-mails, posted to Groklaw, suggests Microsoft may be more deeply involved in funding the lawsuits.
- SCO faces problems abroad. In Germany, SCO cannot make various claims against Linux or else face stiff fines. (Germany has strict laws against vendors making false claims or attacking competitors, and that determination is made swiftly.) SCO is feeling the heat of CyberKnights which has filed a complaint Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The complaint demands similar judgment to that granted in Germany, plus damages.
- SCO did find one company, EV1servers, that would publicly admit to paying SCO for intellectual property licenses (for an undisclosed sum). EV1servers is a web hosting company, and its customers are apparently upset with the arrangement.
OK, while many of these developments are rather technical, the important point is that this battle will have influence over intellectual property policy. More and more, some corporations are pushing for ever-tighter restrictions on content and the flow of information. Unfortunately Washington politicians of both parties are rolling over. The latest insult? Congress may be set to extend copyright protection to databases
, such as telephone listings. That's a big problem, because the Founding Fathers never imagined you could copyright facts.
The open source movement, including Linux developers and distributors, believe that open standards and freely available software benefit both society and commerce. Oddly enough, one of the best-known corporations in the world, IBM, has concluded the same thing and was the first target for Microsoft-funded SCO.
SCO's stock price has headed downward since late 2003 (and after the surge when the company announced its lawsuit against IBM).
To follow developments I recommend Groklaw and Slashdot.