SCO brings Linux licensing to Europe

SCO brings Linux licensing to Europe

Summary: SCO on Wednesday rolled out its Linux licensing programme worldwide. This implies that companies outside the US that use Linux will face threats of litigation if they don't sign

Companies outside the US that use Linux now face the threat of legal action from the SCO Group, following the announcement on Wednesday that SCO's licences are available worldwide.

SCO's Linux licensing programme has proved controversial in the US since launching last year, after the company claimed Linux extensively infringed its Unix System V intellectual property. SCO, in its previous incarnation as Caldera Systems, had acquired the rights to Unix when it bought the operating-systems division from the original Santa Cruz-based SCO. Caldera Systems renamed itself SCO after the takeover, while the remains of the original SCO became Tarantella.

Many open-source and free-software advocates have contested SCO’s claims, while the company has pressed ahead with threats of legal action against American companies that use Linux. Several Linux vendors have offered their customers indemnity against legal action from SCO.

Nevertheless, SCO describes its Intellectual Property Licence for Linux as a run-time licence that "permits the use of SCO’s intellectual property, in binary form only, as contained in Linux distributions". By purchasing a SCO IP licence, SCO says, companies "avoid infringement of SCO's intellectual property and copyrights as… is currently found in Linux".

Announcing availability of the licences worldwide, Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager of SCOsource, which is the intellectual property licensing arm of SCO, conceded that the offer is a double-edged sword.

Companies outside the US that use Linux could already buy a licence from SCOsource under the existing licence programme running within the US. But the explicit offer of licences worldwide brings with it the implicit threat of legal action for those who do not comply.

The first lawsuits are now only weeks away, according to Sontag. "I would expect within the next few weeks we will have a number of Linux end users who we will have identified and taken legal action [against]," Sontag told ZDNet UK. "We will probably see that ramping up over time."

Sontag said the lawsuits would be brought in various locations around the world. "We are going to start vigorously enforcing IP rights." Sontag said there is a possibility that the first tranche of lawsuits could include UK companies, but it was likely to focus on companies maintaining large Linux deployments with whom SCOsource has already had "unsuccessful" discussions. These are likely to be high-profile companies, according to sources.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • No copyright law suits yet... and there won't be.

    If SCO sue somebody, they will:

    1) have to show the code that they have refused to show (which the OS community will then remove).
    2) prove that they own the copyrights which Novell is disputing. (Novell have registered the copyrights)

    See for details.

    SCO has been threatening to sue for months but has not.

    In its court case with IBM it has been unable so far to claim any copyright infringments which it had said it would be presenting.

    OSDL (Open Source Development Labs) have established a fund for supporting users who are sued over things such as copyright infringement.
  • With SCO's position looking more precarious every day, what does this do for their financial position? If they start legal proceedings against companies, do they have to make a provision for potential losses arising from legal fees if they loose? If so I would have thought this would rapidly move SCO to a point of being insolvent and probably trading ilegally? Can they start potentially thousands of cases against linux users, who will then have to pay out to defend themselves only for SCO to go bust leaving a huge bill for costs unpaid?
  • Another inane press release from Sontag/Darl and co.

    I have been following this farce from the beginning of last year and SCO has yet to sue anyone. At least once a week they release a press statement that they are in the process or days away from taking action against "a fortune 500 company and/or linux users".

    Why does zdnet not realize this ?
  • SCO's USA licensing program has been in operation for about 6 months. According to their latest accounting report, released last month, they have so far received virtually no income from it. I expect the world-wide licensing program wil be as big a failure.
  • Sounds like a straightforward attempt at blackmail and extortion. The US courts may go easy on that, but I'm just waiting to see SCO try these kind of Mafia techniques in the UK. In particular, try it in Scotland and you're liable to end up in jail.
  • It's been a year or so and SCO has been unable to show anything in Linux that has anything to do with the now obsolete software SCOG's predecessors bought from Novell. Smart reporters are asking "what exactly do you get for this license fee". McBribe and company will give you press releases. Matt, be from Missouri, say "Show me".
  • The only thing SCO will achieve is their demise in the industry. Show the code code that they alledge is infringing copyrights, it gets changed, nobody every deals with CSO again!
  • Further to the UK design Consultant's comments, a cynic might conclude that his scenario suits Microsoft very nicely.