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SCO Fires back, Subpoenas Stallman, Torvalds et al 1145

Posted by timothy
from the subpoenas-envy dept.
SirFozzie writes "SCO has just, within the past hour, announced that they have fired back against IBM's legal broadside, with one of their own, filing subpoenas against several of the biggest names in Linux. SCO filed subpoenas with the U.S. District Court in Utah, targeting six different individuals or organizations. Those include Novell; Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel; Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation; Stewart Cohen, chief executive of the Open Source Development Labs; and John Horsley, general counsel of Transmeta."
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SCO Fires back, Subpoenas Stallman, Torvalds et al

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  • WHAT!!! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by chochos (700687) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:17PM (#7457202) Homepage Journal
    OK that's it. They've crossed the line. Now all these subpoenaed people/companies need to get together and plan a really careful counterattack, not just a defense.

    I hope IBM and the other companies will help Linus and Stallman get some big-time lawyers and pay for them too, because I think from here on, things will get real ugly real fast...
  • by Perl-Pusher (555592) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:17PM (#7457211)
    He's got my donation anytime!
  • thats odd (Score:4, Interesting)

    by epiphani (254981) <epiphaniNO@SPAMdal.net> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:18PM (#7457227)
    I see how the others relate, but how exactly does John Horsley, general counsel of Transmeta fit into that list? Besides being Linus' old workplace, what do they have to do with all this?

  • by bearclaw (217359) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:18PM (#7457235)
    Doesn't this simply mean that SCO will be seekign testimony from these people? It isn't like SCO is sueing Linus, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:18PM (#7457237)
    um MS bought several unix liscences from sco like a year ago. no mysetery really. but the real motive is sco's own greed. it just so happens that it coincides withs MS's goals so they threw some money at it.

  • I don't THINK so (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sphealey (2855) * on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:19PM (#7457248)
    Swell, Stallman will be rocking in his chair, picking fleas from his beard and muttering "GNU/SCO.. GNU/SCO.. GNU/SCO.." It's like a strawman argument against the millions of free software users.
    Keep in mind the line from The Firm: "Remember - he's smarter than you.". Stallman will be well-prepared by Moglen. He will probably leave SCO's top-notch lawyers tied up in knots by their own questions.

    sPh

  • Fitting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Orien (720204) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:19PM (#7457258)
    They reacted to this awfull fast. Does it seem to anyone else that SCO was planning this all along? Thay just waited for IBM to make the first move.
  • Re:WHAT!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adrianbaugh (696007) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:24PM (#7457332) Homepage Journal
    Yes, because I imagine that so far they've just been sitting on their hands. The need to plan a good counterattack started ages ago - there have even been articles on here where Linus said as much, and I imagine RMS is itching to have his say (whether anyone else is listening or not ;-)). The mere fact that they've been subpoenaed is nothing unexpected (it just means they're compelled to give evidence after all) and nothing that, in itself, requires any more of a "legal counterattack" than was required anyway.
  • by Sri Lumpa (147664) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:27PM (#7457404) Homepage
    Oh dear. Darl probably noticed that their stock didn't go up to $45 but rather went back down to around $14 and panicked and subponeaed a few guys in the lawsuit to make investors believe that they are competently litigating this.

    Luckily the Pump seems to be a bit dry today, even after they opened their mouth; is it a sign that investors are catching on on their scam? I surely hope so.

    Also, being served a subponea hopefully will be the last straw for Linus before he files a copyright infringement suit against SCO.
  • Re:Courtroom Drama?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:28PM (#7457420) Journal
    Prediction:

    If Stallman makes it into a courtroom he'll wind up with a contempt of court charge against him. I wonder if he can resist pulling his "I'm sorry, I don't know what you're talking about." or "I won't answer unless you ask the question with my preferred terminology." when an attorney uses "free" and "open-source" interchangeably or refers to the "Linux operating system.

    In fact, if I were an SCO lawyer I'd definitely bait him until the judge sanctioned him.

  • by MoeMoe (659154) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:29PM (#7457437)
    Actually, it has been common knowledge for a little while now that Microsoft is backing SCO to pull off all this garbage... There are the obvious reasons as to why MS would be behind SCO on this but the most insulting one is the fact that they are trying to build a monopoly all over again along with the help of the monkey boy named SCO... If SCO hadn't started all this BS about having a part of Linux to themselves, it wouldn't have escalated to such proportions...
  • What about Cox? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:36PM (#7457561)
    Didn't Alan Cox write a lot of the "offending" code? Besides being far more important to Linux than many of the subpoena'd people.

    That part about Caldera (now SCO) supporting his writing the very code they are suing over might cause problems for them, though...
  • Fight 'em (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:36PM (#7457562)
    This is placing unnecessary legal expenses on Linus & everyone else. It costs money to show up in court.

    Everyone should sell SCO short on the market. Drive their price into hell where it belongs.
  • Re:Oh dear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:41PM (#7457645) Journal
    ... but this is the guy who invented the GPL! I think he understands better than most people exactly why free software is on solid legal ground, so I think he'd be a fine person on the witness stand. No judge will have a hard time believing that the last thing in the world he would ever want to do would be to steal somebody else's source code and release it for free. He'd sooner rewrite it from scratch, as he's done hundreds of times before.


    Yep, agreed. His integrity is up there with the angels.

    I have a horrible vision of the lawyer ripping him apart over the rights of closed-source programmers though. RMS thinks all programs should be free, not by choice but as a part of the natural order of things. Any competent lawyer should be able to do a character assassination on him, and by association the entire open source movement, with that material. I could, and I'm not a lawyer.

    The other poster's comments about him being precise are valid too - he is. And he's a clever guy, but his principles and beliefs, while noble, verge on religious, which will just be ammunition in the hands of a lawyer :-(

    Simon
  • by why-is-it (318134) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:42PM (#7457655) Homepage Journal
    I read in an interview that Linus suspected that he could be drawn into this lawsuit, although he wasn't particularly interested in being drawn into a disagreement between SCO and IBM over contractual arrangements.

    It's surprising that they didn't include Bruce Perens and/or ESR in their list. Those two have been pretty involved in pointing out SCO's FUD. SCO even implied that ESR was being paid by IBM to attack them!

    I'm not sure what the point of sending a supoena to RMS is though. Perhap the braintrust at SCO is unaware that free software != open source software? I'm sure he would be happy to send them a copy of the free software manifesto. It might not hurt if he sent them a copy of the BSD ruling as well.

    If SCO ever had a plan beyond:
    1) Sue IBM

    2) Get bought out by IBM
    3) Profit
    they are doing a very good job of hiding it. It just looks like one ad-hoc decision after another. Since they initiated the proceedings against IBM, the chewbacca defense isn't an option, and it is difficult to see any coherent strategy at work here.

    Of course, slashdotters are not the intended audience. SCO is playing to the analysts who will repeat what they have been told about SCO's claims being legitimate in order to keep those share prices up there. It is obvious that SCO is not interested in speaking to people who know something about software and technology.
  • Re:I don't THINK so (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lenbok (22992) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:48PM (#7457726)
    Hmmm, having seen him speaking publicly, as well as hanging out with him for a couple of days when he came down to New Zealand a few years ago, I would have said that he was fine at public speaking (probably better at public speaking than interpersonal speaking). Maybe it was just that the public lectures I saw were fairly well rehearsed.
  • Re:Criple Fight!!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Codifex Maximus (639) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:48PM (#7457727) Homepage
    > While attentions are diverted from Microsoft
    > they are rebuilding. Once the dust of the
    > present war ends Microsoft will step in,
    > fully rested, and pick up where it left off
    > however they will be fighting a tired and
    > battle weary enemy.

    Let's tell it like it really is ok?

    While attentions are diverted from Microsoft, they are attempting to circumvent the letter of their agreement with the DOJ (such as it is). Once the dust of the present war ends, Microsoft will step in, with an untried codebase, and pick up where it left off. However, they will be fighting a battle hardened and litigation tested enemy.

    Now, that is more to the point of it isn't it?
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:49PM (#7457749)
    The use of "M$" in your post automatically denotes it to the bottom of the trash heap.

    Stop acting like immature kiddies, people. Busine$$e$ make $$$. Even $lackware.

    Just saying (even turned off Karma Bonus for this post).
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:53PM (#7457796) Homepage Journal
    The article says Microsoft licensed the Unix code. It doesn't say "Microsoft gave money to SCO in order to destroy Linux." Microsoft has what, 80 million people using Windows? Multiply that by $699.
  • Re:Oh dear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ian Bicking (980) <ianb@colorstudy.CHICAGOcom minus city> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:55PM (#7457822) Homepage
    I have a horrible vision of the lawyer ripping him apart over the rights of closed-source programmers though. RMS thinks all programs should be free, not by choice but as a part of the natural order of things. Any competent lawyer should be able to do a character assassination on him, and by association the entire open source movement, with that material. I could, and I'm not a lawyer.

    It's not the first time RMS has faced such accusations, nor will it be the first time he has responded to them. It won't be the fifth time, or the 20th time, or the 100th time. The internet gives a public persona a great deal of practice in responding to attacks. People just as intelligent as SCO's team of lawyers have been attacking RMS (at least verbally) for a long time, often with with no qualms about disingenuously misrepresenting his views.

    I'd be much more worried about Linus, who has not been as willing to put himself in the middle of arguments, and is more apt to compromise. He'd be more likely to answer a question honestly, without recognizing the path down which the lawyer is trying to (mis)lead him. RMS won't lie, but he'll know not to offer facts or interpretations in a form that will provide ammunition for the lawyer.

    RMS may be an extremist, but he's not a zealot. He's not blind to the opinions and perspectives of other people, even if he doesn't agree with them.

  • Re:Courtroom Drama?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:55PM (#7457838) Journal
    Pedantically correcting the lawyer every time (as if he could possibly NOT do that) would be fine. If he does the deliberately obnoxious shtick he pulls in front of audiences, though, pretending to be confused ("Open....source?") he'd be courting trouble. Also, he knows nothing about Linux kernel development -- SCO is naming solely to get him to make provocative statements and I'm sure they'd try to push all his buttons.

    The AC who responded below is right, though: realistically, the only way SCO is seeing the inside of a courtoom is in a bankruptcy hearing or as defendants in an SEC prosecution.

  • by nateDigs420 (723672) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:56PM (#7457845)
    Why would Microsoft license a company that distributes software that is a DIRECT competitor to their Server software? Would it be to infuse a poor company with money so they can fight a lengthy legal process? I would be willing to bet the farm.
  • Fire back?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @05:58PM (#7457873) Homepage
    Mmm... IBM requested proof of SCO's claims. That's how our system of "justice" works, the plaintiff files a case then proves it by providing evidence.

    In alleged response to IBM's request, SCO filed a bunch of its own subpoenas. Exactly how is that "firing back"?! The only way SCO could "fire back" is by responding to IBM's request, i.e., PROVE ITS CASE!!!

    SCO's subpoenas are nothing but a delay tactic. It's an attempt to avoid firing back as long as possible. SCO is not ready to let the world know it has absolutely no proof.

    For any SCO supporters out there, ask yourself this: If SCO had evidence, why is it STILL hiding it?! An author cannot sue another author for plagiarism, but refuse to tell exactly what was plagiarized!

  • by Krehbiel (708327) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @07:16PM (#7458750)
    (IANAL) I'd guess they intend to get Stallman and Torvalds both to admit that the GNU and Linux projects have always been about duplicating Unix, which is, frankly, true. From this I'll guess they hope to get the court to declare that GNU/Linux is an illegal derivative of Unix, and therefore is the property of SCO. Nah, that'll never work... Maybe they intend to show that Richard and Linus consipred to destroy the commercial value of Unix. But I don't believe that's even illegal, unless you are a monopoly.
  • Thank You SCO! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ansak (80421) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @07:47PM (#7459137) Homepage Journal
    I was beginning to think you were incapable of further follies. I've had my gut-laugh for the day and I feel much better now.

    But seriously, wouldn't it be wise for Stallman, Torvalds and all to take the stand and essentially tear the case to ribbons from discovery? They wouldn't have to restrict themselves to quoting the e-mail chain that wandered around IBM's submissions to the kernel. They could actually give the oral version, complete with iterating under oath how retaining "freedom" is so important that they do everything they can to keep disallowed trade secrets from leaking into the kernel. Not a bad set of things to have show up in sworn testimony.

  • Re:RMS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macshit (157376) <miles@g[ ]org ['nu.' in gap]> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @07:50PM (#7459176) Homepage
    Naw, he bathes regularly. I know this very well, because at least a few years ago, he lived in his office, and you could often see him in the morning going off to the showers ... wearing nothing but a towel... [gack!]

    [I've also sat next to him for extended periods at social occasions, and had no complaints, about the smell anyway.]
  • Re:Oh dear (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:04PM (#7459313)
    I could easily see them contradicting Stallman and Torvolds.

    Stallman will testify how every contribution to GNU gets a signed release form from both the contributor and his/her employer, after the contributer has been vetted to some extent.

    Linus will testify that he takes stuff that shows up in his inbox and merges it into Linux without even knowing who it came from. (There really is big chunks of Linux where nobody knows who the author is in the real world.) In contrast to Stallman, he'll look like a someone who completely disregards copyright.
  • by polyp2000 (444682) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:33PM (#7459632) Homepage Journal
    I must admit, that is a frighteningly valid point. I've read Rebel Code (glynn moody) and its pretty much true to say that the original intentions of Linux were derived from Minix. Which in itself was intended to provide a Unix (previously the reserve of larger machines) to run on lesser hardware,eg x386 something that Linus hankered after...

    None the less, it was still at least at that stage an original work and not based on the back then proprietary Unix source code.

    The thing is, regardless of the source code, is it legal to create a product, identical or at least very similar to a proprietary product an allowable thing ?

    I suppose this is where the issue of software patents comes in.. OpenOffice for example... is that similar to MSOffice that it could also be subject to review, even if the codebase is completely clean?

    Im so indoctrinated with open source now that a world without it is a world I dont want to exist in. SCO suck and so does MS (multiple sclerosis)! While there is nothing wrong with the closed source model aside from its monopolistic behaviours, Open and Closed source models should be able to coexist simultaneously without all this damn bitching!
  • Curious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by uberdave (526529) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:46PM (#7459752) Homepage
    If I answer without those precise definitions, the jury might come to the wrong understanding of what I'm saying. Since I know that, that would be perjury, wouldn't it?

    Would it? I'm curious. I've always equated perjury to lying. If someone truthfully answers a question when they *know* the answer will be interpreted incorrectly, have they committed perjury?
  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:53PM (#7460328) Homepage
    There are ogg recordings of 12 of his speeches from the last 3 years on the GNU philosophy audio page [gnu.org].

    Also note that the issue of the name "GNU/Linux" is not about credit (more explanation here [gnu.org])

    And an explanation of the fiasco regarding Stallman being asked to talk at a "Linux User Group" is available here [gnu.org].

  • by hqm (49964) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @10:56PM (#7460723)
    I just posted this in an earlier SCO story, but I thought it was worth posting again -- I sent a letter to our congressman, Barney Frank (D- MASS), about SCO's abusive use of the court system. He sent this reply:

    - - - -
    September 26, 2003

    Dear Mr. Minsky,

    I share your view that the suits being brought by the SCO Group
    against the users of the Linux system are an entirely inappropriate
    use of the legal systems for broader corporate purposes. While I have
    not been able, obviously, to examine these in detail, the suits do
    not appear to me, from what I have read, to have any merit, and in
    fact seem to be motivated, as I said, by an effort simply to prevent
    the use of Linux for competitive reasons.

    There is, unfortunately, a very limited role for Congress here. I
    agree with those who would like to see us "stop SCO from punishing
    innocent consumers to inflate its other legal claims." But under our
    separation of powers doctrine, Congress has no role whatsoever to play
    in the pursuit of particular cases. We can pass laws which prevent
    certain types of suits from being brought, but it is very, very
    difficult to pass those in a way that would be retroactive ? that is,
    that would apply to existing suits. And the problem with this suit is
    not that it is of a sort of legal claim that is inappropriate to
    bring, but that it is totally unjustified on the merits. In other
    words, the remedy here is for these suits to be dismissed on their
    merits and Congress has no role, as I have said, in doing that.

    I am prepared to join in expressions of extreme disapproval of what
    SCO is doing, and I will be consulting with my colleagues to see if
    there is a movement to do that. I hope that will have some impact on
    them. All of these lawsuits brought against individuals will of course
    be dismissed but I realize that is of little consolation to people
    who have had to go through the trouble and expense of defending against
    them. It may be that at some point a judge will act decisively enough
    in this regard to prevent this proliferation of suits, and while, as I
    said, our Congressional role is very limited here, I will be
    encouraging anything we can do along these lines.

    Barney Frank
  • Bigger Mistake (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cl0r0x70 (723611) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @11:44PM (#7461027) Homepage
    Wow. Dragging in those guys is like playing pickup basketball and demanding that Shaq, Kobe, Duncan, Kidd, and Garnett all get on the court against you at the same time. Unfortunately, I'm not sure the referee (the U.S. Court system,) is competent enough to call the game correctly. . . .
  • by Scot W. Stevenson (716113) <[ed.nilreb-ni.mussop] [ta] [tocs]> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @11:54PM (#7461091) Homepage
    I'm aware that this is a subpoena and not an attack on Linus, but from a PR point of view, this is really, really dumb and must be making the people on SCO' side cringe: Linus is just too nice of a guy (at least in the public eye outside of Redmond) to draw into this; this will be sort of like sending a subpeona to Ghandi for a lot of people. Note that even Microsoft has avoided major attacks against "Saint Linus of the Penguin". I wonder if HP will still stand up for their "friends" at SCO and send them money for that road show after this.

    Then again, Groklaw [groklaw.net] has this nice quote:

    You know, it isn't exactly normal to announce who you are going to subpoena. For one thing, the party might go on a 2-year world cruise on a raft or something, and then you might find them hard to timely serve. Not that I'm trying to give Linus any suggestions, of course. But a guy might just find himself pining for the fjords.

    Given the snail's pace of the U.S. legal system in this case, he might just decide to stay in Europe.

  • The price of freedom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Presence1 (524732) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:06AM (#7461480) Homepage
    " The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. " -- Thomas Jefferson

    This applies to all freedoms.

    You state "... this isn't about war, it's about freedom...and you have to remember that if you exercise your own freedom effectively, war is not necessary."

    This lovely sentiment is only true until someone comes along and tries to take that freedom. Then, you either decide that peace is more important than freedom and let them have it, or you fight for that freedom.

    The requirement to defend any freedom is is simply part of the human condition.

    Absence of a need to defend your freedom is only evidence of living in a lucky time; it is not evidence of the absence of the requirement to defend that freedom.

    We may be unlucky to have this SCO crowd attempt to kill GPL, but I thnk it is inevitable; if not them it would be someone else. OS is too powerful an idea for those corporate power types to leave alone. If you don't want to fight, fine, but quit whining and snivelling!

  • Re:RMS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MobyTurbo (537363) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @02:37AM (#7461859) Homepage
    Torvalds: "Hey! That's MY code! Rather, it's a very early and buggy version of my code. It looks very similar to Linux 0.2.
    There never was a Linux 0.2, it went straight from 0.11 to 0.95.
  • by kwzatz (723806) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @05:53AM (#7462505)
    If I'm not mistaken, the NSA has their own distribution of GNU/linux, isn't it ?

    It puts them on the same level as IBM, from SCO's legal point of view, it seems to me.

    I wonder why sco doesn't go and sue THAT part of the US governement.

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