, we wrote that SCO's anti-Linux
campaign was not just IBM's problem, and that others needed to get into
the fight. Red Hat, clearly, was thinking along the same lines; on
August 4 the company announced
the filing of a lawsuit against SCO in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
Also announced was the creation of a fund (with a $1 million
contribution from Red Hat) to defend Linux developers against infringement
Red Hat, seeing a threat to its business, decided to act. SCO, indeed, is
not just IBM's problem.
The lawsuit alleges unfair competition, trade libel, deceptive trade
practices, false advertising, and interference with business
opportunities. It asks for a declaratory judgement that Red Hat has not
violated SCO's copyright or trade secrets, and asks for an unspecified
amount of damages. LWN has published a look at
Red Hat's complaint; for those wanting to go to the source, the complaint
itself is available in small,
easily-read text format or huge,
hard-to-read PDF format.
There is one interesting omission from the complaint. SCO continues to distribute
a 2.4 kernel. This action is a clear violation of the GPL (SCO claims that
kernel cannot be redistributed, or even run without a special license - see
below), and thus an infringement of the kernel developers' copyrights. Red
Hat (along with its employees) holds copyrights to a substantial amount of
kernel code, but no allegations of infringement appear in Red Hat's
complaint. Red Hat told us it was "unable to comment" about this
omission. The GPL and SCO's continued distribution of the disputed code
(whatever it is) under a GPL license will almost certainly play a role in
this whole affair before it is done, but the time has apparently not yet
to Red Hat's suit was unyielding, to say the least.
SCO has not been trying to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt to
end users. We have been educating end users on the risks of
running an operating system that is an unauthorized derivative of
UNIX. Linux includes source code that is a verbatim copy of UNIX
and carries with it no warranty or indemnification. SCO's claims
are true and we look forward to proving them in court.
The response includes a letter sent back to Red Hat; quoting from there:
Of course, we will prepare our legal response as required by your
complaint. Be advised that our response will likely include
counterclaims for copyright infringement and conspiracy.
I must say that your decision to file legal action does not seem
conducive to the long-term survivability of Linux.
Remember, as you read the above, that SCO "has not been trying to spread
fear, uncertainty, and doubt."
If things go well, Red Hat's suit has the potential to force SCO to put
its cards on the table and point out the code that, it claims, infringes
upon its copyrights. At that point, it would be possible to actually
evaluate those claims and determine the true origins of the disputed code.
If SCO has no real claim to that code, the issue can be put to rest. If
SCO's copyrights have truly been violated, the parties responsible can be
identified and the stolen code excised. Of course, SCO has no interest in
either of those scenerios, and will continue to fight any sort of public
disclosure. It would not be possible, after all, for SCO to try to collect
a tax on a system known to be free of its copyrights. But that's the
subject for the next article...
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