SCO bans press from Open Systems briefing

SCO has banned journalists from attending an Open Systems user briefing in Australia because it expects the managing director to receive a 'hostile grilling' from members
Written by Iain Ferguson, Contributor

The SCO Group's Australian managing director has played down a move to bar media outlets from his presentation to the Australian Unix and Open Systems User Group (AUUG) as pressure intensifies over the vendor's decision to litigate over intellectual property issues.

A statement released by the AUUG said "on the express wish of SCO, the press will not be admitted" to his briefing to the group's NSW arm in Sydney tonight. SCO's Kieran O'Shaughnessy told ZDNet Australia that represented "somewhat of an overstatement" of his position.

O'Shaughnessy conceded, however, that when contacted by the AUUG last week, he had expressed a preference that media representatives not be admitted so he could conduct the presentation and subsequent discussion over SCO's stance in a more "relaxed and casual" fashion than possible with journalists present.

He said he had discussed the issues personally with several journalists already and had no problems continuing to do so.

The managing director acknowledged that he faced a hostile grilling from some members of the AUUG, whose statement yesterday called on SCO to "cease its destructive actions" over perceived IP issues involving Linux.

However, he said he would be "not at all defensive" about his company's stance and would take the opportunity to lay out what SCO had done and why.

SCO Group earlier this year launched a $1bn lawsuit against IBM, claiming Big Blue had misappropriated trade secrets by building Unix IP into Linux. The company subsequently broadened its accusation to say Unix had been copied line for line into Linux. It also sent letters to about 1,500 of the world's largest corporations, warning they could be liable for their use of the open-source operating system.

O'Shaughnessy said the interests of the AUUG -- as a user group -- and SCO -- as a commercial organisation -- were "not always in sync".

The AUUG statement quotes the organisation's president, Greg Lehey, as "condemning" SCO's actions.

"We believe that it will do good for neither Linux, Unix nor SCO.

"We believe that the manner in which SCO is attempting to protect [its] intellectual property is inappropriate and damaging SCO.

"We have already seen the first cases of legal action against SCO and it is reasonable to expect more.

"The only people who stand to gain from the situation are those companies that compete with Unix and Linux".

The AUUG described the letters issued to corporate Linux users and industry partners as "threatening". O'Shaughnessy said the letters had been sent to "only about half a dozen" companies in Australia and the SCO Group had not received any response from any of them.

Opposition to SCO Group's campaign against the Linux operating system is continuing to mount, as Novell challenges the company's copyright infringement claims and a German software group threatens to take SCO to court.

Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

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