Unix vendor SCO Group Inc has once again written to Unix licensees and Linux users, continuing its claim that the Linux operating system contains code copied from its Unix System V code base.
The Lindon, Utah-based company has written to Unix licensees requesting that they provide written certification that they are in compliance with their Unix license, and to select Fortune 1,000 Linux end users providing notice that SCO believes them to be in infringement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The letters are the latest step in the company’s crusade against the Linux operating system, and appear to be a last chance before the company launches its much-promised legal action against Linux users.
SCO is already suing IBM Corp for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract in relation to its claim that Unix code has been copied into Linux, and has threatened to sue major corporations using Linux for copyright infringement if they do not take out a license for its Unix code.
The company appears to be stepping up its legal claims against licensees and end users, but the announcement of the letters coincided with the publication of fourth quarter financial results that appeared to indicate that SCO’s intellectual property licensing scheme is running out of steam (see separate story).
The first letter has been sent to hundreds of Linux end users, according to chairman and CEO, Darl McBride, and outlines SCO’s claimed evidence of copyright infringement in Linux.
The evidence claimed by SCO relates to application binary interface (ABI) code that was identified as part of a 1994 settlement agreement involving AT&T’s Unix Systems Labs, (the original owner of the Unix code) and the University of California at Berkeley, as well as Berkeley Systems Design Inc.
McBride said that people who were found guilty of non-wilful violation of copyright law could face damages of $30,000 per CPU, while those involved in wilful violation could face up to $100,000 per CPU.
The DMCA is the equivalent of trying to stop break-and-entry of homes by making screwdrivers illegal, commented Red Hat co-founder Bob Young in a recent open letter to SCO. Breaking and entering should be illegal. Allowing honest citizens to own innocent tools that evildoers might use to break and enter must remain perfectly legal.
In his own open letter Jon Hall, the executive director of Linux International commented: There are many legislators in the United States today who are taking a second look at the DMCA law and discovering that it is just a bad piece of legislation (it happens sometimes) and needs to be modified to meet its goals of limiting the unbridled reproduction and distribution of intellectual property.
SCO’s second letter, to Unix licensees, requests that they provide written certification that they are in full compliance with their Unix source code agreement. In particular, SCO is looking for licensees to certify that they are not running Linux code that contains the identified ABI code, that the licensee and its employees have held SCO’s code in confidence, and that they have not contributed any Unix code to Linux.
SCO has requested that Unix licensees respond to its letter by the end of January and said that failure to respond to the request or failure to certify full compliance would give SCO the right to terminate the license agreement and require the licensee to discontinue the use of Unix code.
If verification is not complete or violation is found we will terminate the right of the licensee to use Linux, said McBride.
This article is based on material originally produced by ComputerWire.