SCO takes softly, softly approach downunder

Though SCO has launched its Linux licences in Australia and New Zealand, representatives are talking down the threat of legal action

The SCO Group is initially soft-pedalling threats of lawsuits against Australian and New Zealand companies who use Linux, as it starts marketing licences to secure revenue for use of the open source software.

SCO's Australian and New Zealand regional general manager, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, told ZDNet Australia "in no way will I be threatening users with lawsuits" during the sale process, which kicks off this week.

However, O' Shaughnessy also warned that "SCO reserves its right to pursue legal redress as a last resort in resolving copyright infringement [issues]".

O'Shaughnessy's remarks came after Chris Sontag, the senior vice president and general manager of SCOsource, which is the company's intellectual property arm, warned in the UK last week that the vendor was poised to launch legal action against a number of companies worldwide for alleged intellectual property breaches involving Linux.

Sontag said: "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)".

However, O'Shaughnessy confirmed that "at this time there will be no legal action against users in Australia and New Zealand".

The SCO Group launched its licensing program in the US last year after claiming that Linux breached its Unix System V intellectual property.

The company's claims have been rejected and vilified by open-source advocates worldwide, with Melbourne-based Open Source Victoria being a particularly strident critic locally.

O'Shaughnessy made the remarks as the vendor this morning announced the immediate pricing and availability of licences -- which the company says permits the use of its intellectual property, in binary form only, as contained in Linux distributions -- for the local market.

According to the vendor, "by purchasing the licence, customers are properly compensating SCO for the Unix source code, derivative Unix code and other Unix-related intellectual property and copyrights owned by SCO as it is currently found in Linux".

O'Shaughnessy said companies who purchase one-off, in-perpetuity licences will pay A$999 (£423) per server processor and A$285 per desktop processor. The licence is also being offered to embedded device manufacturers who use Linux to run their devices.

He added that an annual subscription version of the licences was in the works, but pricing was yet to be confirmed.

O'Shaughnessy said the licence would be made available to selected channel partners in the near future. He will this week be briefing two partners in Australia -- Tardis and MPA Systems, and two in New Zealand -- MPA (no relation to MPA Systems) and Base 10 Technology, over the licences.

Tech heavyweight Telstra, which is a strong proponent of Linux and open source software, declined to comment on the issue when approached by ZDNet Australia last week.

Matt Loney contributed to this report