SCO fights back against 'don't pay' advice

Open Source Industry Australia's recommendation that firms don't buy SCO licences is 'free advice that's worth the price', says the embattled Unix vendor

The SCO Group has moved to refute an Australian open-source industry group's position paper arguing companies using Linux should not respond to demands from the software company for licence payments.

SCO's Australian and New Zealand boss, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, told ZDNet Australia that "nothing the umbrella group [Open Source Industry Australia] has been reported as saying changes SCO's belief in and commitment to pursuing our [intellectual property] claims and initiatives."

"We have a bona-fide belief in the veracity of our claims."

O'Shaughnessy's remarks came after a spokesperson for SCO in the US, Blake Stowell, told CBS Marketwatch that until the intellectual property issue was dealt with by the courts, it was up to customers whether or not to take OSIA's advice.

SCO shook up the tech world last year when it filed a lawsuit against IBM charging that Big Blue had included in its Linux software some source code from Unix, which SCO claims to control. SCO subsequently broadened its legal assault. One of its moves was to start selling licences to commercial users of Linux; SCO claimed these would legitimise their use of the open-source software and minimise any exposure to future legal action over alleged breaches of SCO's intellectual property.

Stowell reportedly told CBS that customers may be leaving themselves legally unprotected by not purchasing a licence.

However, the legal status of SCO's claims remains unclear, with IBM recently asking the US court presiding over the SCO litigation to issue a prompt ruling that Big Blue had not infringed on SCO's copyrights.

O'Shaughnessy also noted the OSIA paper, posted on the fledgling body's Web site earlier this week after what a key participant in the organisation said was two months' worth of drafting, did not presume to carry any legal authority.

"I would make note that this group appear to have made these assertions and statements about SCO's claims, but have also included an all-encompassing disclaimer of legal responsibility for their assertions," he said.

"They make these statements but are not prepared to stand behind them from a legal perspective. "

"It's free advice that's worth the price."

O'Shaughnessy also said SCO would "never say never" about examining its legal options over comments made by individuals and groups it believed were incorrect and prejudicial to its interests. However, he stressed his remarks were a statement of commercial reality and not intended as a specific warning to OSIA.

He added that SCO was "quite within its rights to seek redress" from those who made inaccurate or malicious comments that endangered the company's business.

O'Shaughnessy also revealed he had been promoted from the position of regional general manager, Australia and New Zealand, to the post of regional director, Australia and New Zealand.

The promotion, which entailed no changes to his duties and responsibilities, represented "recognition by the company that I'm on the right track in the territory," he said.

ZDNet Australia's Iain Ferguson reported from Sydney. For more coverage from ZDNet Australia, click here.