SCO legal fight 'hampering' adoption of Linux in government

SCO legal fight 'hampering' adoption of Linux in government

Summary: Public-sector IT managers could be deterred from adopting open source because of the SCO factor, according to one MP

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SCO's legal assault on Linux could seriously affect the take-up of open-source software by UK government agencies, according to one of Britain's most tech-savvy MPs, who was attending the Linux User and Developer Expo 2004 in London

Richard Allan MP, the Liberal Democrat IT spokesman, warned on Wednesday that uncertainty over SCO's claim that Linux infringes its Unix copyrights will deter some public-sector employees from breaking away from proprietary software.

Allan said that the legal actions already brought by SCO against some firms, and the possibility that they will target other users of open-source software, are a "significant disincentive" to public-sector IT managers who are considering embracing Linux.

If correct, this is good news for software vendors such as Microsoft, which was recently embroiled in a row after it emerged that it had played a role in discussions between BayStar and SCO over their $50m (£27.8m) funding deal.

Allan argued that the laws surrounding copyright may need to be revised to prevent claims such as SCO's from harming the IT industry,  saying that the alternative is that similar legal actions could "hold up innovation" for several years.

However, other experts said on Wednesday that SCO's legal action will have little long-term impact.

"No, next question," said Matt Asay, director of Linux business office at Novell, when asked if SCO posed a serious threat to Linux.

A spokesperson for Red Hat replied that his company had repeatedly asked SCO for the offending lines of Unix code in Linux but so far hadn't received anything. "Every week that goes by that they fail to provide that code should be seen as evidence of the strength of their suit," he said.

Responding to the SCO question, Bradley Tipp, Microsoft national systems engineer said: "It's nice to see a court case that we are not involved in for a change." Some audience members responded to his reply by shouting out various comments relating to the memo linking Microsoft to SCO.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

Andrew Donoghue

About Andrew Donoghue

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."

Hunter S. Thompson

Andrew Donoghue is a freelance technology and business journalist with over ten years on leading titles such as Computing, SC Magazine, BusinessGreen and ZDNet.co.uk.

Specialising in sustainable IT and technology in the developing world, he has reported and volunteered on African aid projects, as well as working with charitable organisations such as the UN Foundation and Computer Aid.

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3 comments
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  • The fact companies who invested in SCO
    are starting to have doubts on SCOs credibility
    and their likelihood of winning, means SCO wil
    run out of money long before they can finish
    playing their corrupt litigation lottery.

    WHEN RBC recalls their loan,
    it'll be game over for SCO!

    (See, it took a blind, naiive, stupid Canadian bank
    to lend SCO money, because no bank with a brain
    and any business sense would even entertain
    the thought of funding SCOs litigious game.)
    anonymous
  • Whatever...SCO's about to drown in a legal guagmire of it's own making. Baystar saw the writing on the wall and is yanking their support. The Royal Bank of Canada will likely follow suit, SCO won't be able to pay it's lawyers and will become insolvent and the whole mess won't get cleared up because the lawsuits will never get a chance at a trial because SCO will be a defunct and dead company...unless MicroSoft swoops in with a cash infusion to resurrect their dying puppet.
    anonymous
  • This news is unfortunate in that many nice doggies must be licensed, many buildings inspected, many bad guys caught, much water supplied . . . The penguin is ideal for gov't, but there's always one constant concern: IT professional retention in the sector. I've seen guys walk faster than former husbands of Rosanne.
    anonymous