Australians told to ignore SCO's letters

An industry group is suggesting that Australian companies and individuals should not make any response to SCO's demands for Linux licences

A newly formed Australian free- and open-source software industry group is urging companies and individuals to ignore SCO's push to secure licence revenues from Linux users.

Open Source Industry Australia (OSIA) yesterday posted a position paper on its Web site arguing that Australian companies who receive a request for licence payment from SCO should not reply in any way, should seek legal advice and should also submit any documentation from SCO to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

OSIA argues in the paper that Australian enterprises and individuals using Linux should continue to do so, and that SCO's threats are no barrier to the ongoing adoption of the operating system. The release of the paper comes a week after IBM asked the US court presiding over its dispute with SCO to issue a prompt ruling that Big Blue had not infringed on SCO's copyrights. SCO sued IBM last year, claiming the tech heavyweight included in its Linux software some source code from Unix, which SCO claims to control. The case has subsequently expanded into a far-ranging legal assault on Linux.

OSIA spokesperson Con Zymaris told ZDNet Australia that the paper, prepared during the past two months, would provide businesses and individuals with a platform to undertake a risk analysis before deploying Linux.

However, OSIA has included extensive disclaimers of legal responsibility for information contained in the paper and for interpretations thereof. Zymaris stressed OSIA was "not a legal outfit, we're an advocacy and industry development body".

OSIA's move, its first significant foray into community issues associated with free and open source software, comes as the ACCC continues to investigate a complaint by Open Source Victoria (OSV) -- of which Zymaris is a convenor -- that SCO's activities breach the Trade Practices Act.

ZDNet UK sister site ZDNet Australia understands that the competition regulator is continuing to assess the merits of the OSV complaint, with its last written communication with OSV being more than two months ago.

The ACCC has acknowledged the OSV complaint raises several complicated issues involving intellectual property rights and provisions of the Trade Practices Act that cover misleading and deceptive conduct.

The OSIA paper argues that the claims made by SCO are "akin to a complete stranger knocking on your door one day, demanding rent in arrears for a portion of your office.

"You have had no dealings with this stranger beforehand and he offers you no proof whatsoever that he owns what he says he owns. He does, however, threaten to sue you if you don't pay".

The paper argues that SCO's actions are illegal under the Trade Practices Act.

SCO's Australian and New Zealand boss, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, was not immediately available for comment.

For more coverage on ZDNet Australia, click here.