So, this dumb company SCO is busying its lawyers with a lawsuit against IBM regarding some supposed intellectual property theft. SCO says that IBM took source code that SCO owns and cut-n-paste it into the source code of Linux. SCO hasn't really been very specific about what happened, and from some of what I've read, it sounds like they may not be concerned with Linux itself (if you want to get technical, Linux is just the kernel of an operating system—you can't really do anything useful with it until software is loaded on top of it), but with the surrounding libraries of code.
Many people say that the case is moot because even if IBM stole code from SCO and put it into Linux or the assosciated software, SCO probably took that code and redistributed it under the GNU General Public License, meaning that SCO effectively relicensed the code to be free. While that may technically free IBM from any wrongdoing, it would still be a nasty thing if it happened, and I'm sure people would want it to be corrected.
Of course, an interesting implication of the code being licensed under the GPL is that the Free Software Foundation has been granted control of the license. This isn't what always happens when code is GPLed, but many people do it.
Anyway, some people at SCO are still being jackasses and making all sorts of grandiose claims. Fortunately, Eric S. Raymond (ESR) has written a position paper that shows just how arrogantly they are acting. Of course, the position paper itself probably goes a bit too far at points, but it seems to be largely correct. It makes for interesting reading for anyone who likes learning about computing history.
SCO seems to be claiming that it has a great market share, has the only Unix-on-Intel implementation ever created, has software that is scalable to 32-CPU machines, and other outrageous statements. Many of their claims could be said to be merely filled with too much bravado, but the idea that they made the only flavor of Unix that runs on Intel-based processors is an outright lie. I can't blame ESR for getting a little worked up in response..
There are some rumors floating around that IBM may hire ESR as a Unix historian to help on their side of the case, so we'll see what happens. I'm not sure what effect that would have on the paper he wrote..Posted by mike at May 20, 2003 11:48 AM | Law , Software | TrackBack