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SCO Gives Notice To 6,000 Unix Licensees 442

Posted by timothy
from the litigious-devotion dept.
inode_buddha writes "This article describes SCO's recent letters to its UNIX licensees, asking them to certify that they '...are not using Unix code in Linux.' It also notes another set of letters '...outlining additional evidence of copyright infringement to a subset of 1,500 global Linux users that SCO first contacted in May about copyright infringement.' There's also a decent breakdown of the company's balance sheet and some quotes from company officials. I hope to see one of those 'other' letters; could anyone post it? SCO better have asbestos underwear." Ask and receive: idiotnot adds "Here's the article from the Sydney Morning Herald. Here is a PDF Copy of the letter." "Yours truly"?
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SCO Gives Notice To 6,000 Unix Licensees

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  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @09:04AM (#7890065) Homepage
    According to the BBB, this is what they have to say about SCO.

    "Based on BBB files, this company has a satisfactory record with the Bureau. Any complaints processed by the Bureau in its three-year reporting period have been resolved. The number and type of complaints are not unusual for a company in this industry. "

    Something is not....right.

  • by shanen (462549) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @09:18AM (#7890145) Homepage Journal
    Oh yeah, I forgot to explain about the rope in the Subject. While you still have some slack, the rope is falling along with you. When the rope stops moving...

    The judge wants to see the goods. He wants to see them NOW. SCO don't have no goods. He's a hanging judge.

  • by iapetus (24050) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @09:21AM (#7890160) Homepage
    Actually, there is a justification for an apostrophe. Although it's falling out of fashion, an apostrophe to denote the plural of an acronym has been acceptable (even standard - witness the 1984 GPO style guide).

    It's a common mistake (in my opinion) to rant and rave about how people who pluralise acronyms with an apostrophe are 'wrong' - it's still really a matter of personal preference and style.
  • by SamiousHaze (212418) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @09:26AM (#7890193)
    The PDF is unavailable now but I have a window open with the text. Which is posted below.

    December 18, 2003
    [Name]
    [Address]
    Re: AT&T / SCO License No. SOFT-____
    Dear UNIX Licensee:
    You are designated as Licensee under the above-referenced software licensing agreement
    (the "Agreement"). The undersigned SCO Group, Inc. ("SCO") is the successor licensor.
    The Agreement is in full force and effect according to its terms.
    License Grant to Use UNIX Technology
    You were granted under Para. 2.01 of the Agreement:
    [A] personal, nontransferable and nonexclusive right to use
    in the [Authorized Country] each Software Product
    identified in one or more Supplements hereto, solely for
    Licensee's own internal business purposes and solely on or
    in conjunction with Designated CPU's for such Software
    Product. Such right to use includes the right to modify
    such Software Product and to prepare derivative works
    based such Software Product, provided that the resulting
    materials are treated hereunder as part of the original
    Software Product.
    The Software Product thus includes more than the base System V release licensed by
    you. Software Products also includes: (a) the UNIX software release based on UNIX
    System V prepared by your UNIX vendor and (b) modifications to, or derivative works
    based on, any UNIX product made by you.
    Limitations on Use of UNIX Technology
    Your limitations on use and other obligations under the Agreement include the following:
    Para. 2.05. No right is granted by this Agreement for the
    use of Software Products directly for others, or for any use
    of Software Products by others. [This is expanded under
    2.06 under some contracts.]
    Para. 4.01. Licensee agrees that it will not, without prior
    written consent of [SCO], export, directly or indirectly,
    Software Products covered by this Agreement to any
    country outside the[Authorized Country].
    Para. 7.06(a) [7.05(a). Licensee agrees that it shall hold all
    parts of the Software Products subject to this Agreement in
    confidence for [SCO]. Licensee further agrees that it shall
    not make any disclosure of any or all of the Software
    Products (including methods or concepts utilized therein) to
    anyone, except to employees of Licensee to whom such
    disclosure is necessary to the use for which rights are
    granted hereunder. Licensee shall appropriately notify each
    employee to whom such disclosure is made that such
    disclosure is made in confidence and shall be kept in
    confidence by such employee.
    Para. 7.09. Neither this Agreement nor any rights
    hereunder, in whole or in part, shall be assignable or
    otherwise transferable by Licensee and any purported
    assignment or transfer shall be null and void.
    Para. 7.10. [N]othing in this Agreement grants to Licensee
    the right to sell, lease, or otherwise transfer or dispose of a
    Software Product in whole or in part.
    Required Certification Re: Use of UNIX
    You are also obligated to certify proper use of the Software Products by you under the
    Agreement, as required by the following Para. 2.04 2.05:
    On [SCO's] request, but not more frequently than annually,
    Licensee shall furnish to SCO a statement, certified by an
    authorized representative of Licensee, listing the location,
    type and serial number of all Designated CPUs hereunder
    and stating that the use by Licensee of Software Products
    subject to this Agreement has been reviewed and that each
    such Software Product is being used solely on such
    Designated CPUs (or temporarily on back-up CPUs) for
    such Software Products in full compliance with the
    provisions of this Agreement. (Emphasis added.)
    Accordingly, SCO requires written certification by your authorized representative
    under Para. 2.04 within 30 days of receipt of this letter. Such written certification must
    include statements that:
    1. You are not running Linux binary code that was compiled from any version of Linux
    that contains our copyrighte
  • Hell no. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @09:26AM (#7890194)

    Pro-forma, yes. Not GAAP. Guess which system Enron used till the end?

  • by Glamdrlng (654792) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @09:31AM (#7890228)
    Depends I suppose if that's 30 days or 30 business days. If it's business days, they'd have until 22 January. InternetWeek [internetwk.com] has it listed as "the end of the week" though.
  • by mikechant (729173) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @09:37AM (#7890265)
    It's also interesting to note that such formations as "Banana's" and "Tomato's" were once considered correct usage - any plural of a non-English word (as these were considered many years ago) was typically written with an apostrophe. (This information is courtesy of Lynn Truss in her excellent little book about punctuation, titled "Eats, shoots and leaves".)
  • Interview with Darl, (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @09:58AM (#7890431)
    Here are excerpts from an interview with Darl from Dec 23, 2003 in Investor's Business Daily (investors.com). I selected the most interesting parts. My comments are in [ ]. He says some interesting things, that, in my opinion as an attorney, *will* come back to haunt him.

    Article Title: "$3 Billion Damage Claim Justified, Says CEO"

    Author: KEN SPENCER BROWN
    Section: Internet & Technology

    Date: 12/23/2003 ...
    IBD: But don't people have the right to give away their work through a GPL if they so choose?

    McBride: Absolutely, we don't deny that right at all. Anybody that wants to develop their work and give it away, God bless them. [He accepts the validity of the GPL right here. SCO gave away software under the GPL, they can't take that back.]

    What we have a major, violent reaction to is people giving away works we have control rights over. Obviously what (IBM) is trying to do here is to commoditize the operating system, i.e. the price should be zero. They think the margins should be in the hardware, middleware and services. Not coincidentally, that's where their strengths are.
    [Yes, but you distributed software under the GPL, hence you no longer have "control rights" (assuming, arguendo, you did before).] ...
    IBD: Why haven't you publicly revealed the lines of Unix code you say IBM copied into Linux?

    McBride: What we have told people is: "Here are the files. Here are all the program names IBM has contributed into Linux. These were all developed under our Unix contract licenses." What we are doing now is breaking that down into a line-by-line format. So if someone doesn't want to take the time, we will absolutely be producing that with these next lawsuits.

    [So, with the next lawsuits, he *claims* they'll show the code.] ...

    IBD: Why are you pursuing action against Linux users and not Linux distributors, like Red Hat Inc.?

    McBride: The Linux marketplace is very complex and convoluted. You have many players involved in this. The godfather of Linux is really IBM, and that's where we started our claims. They're really at the top of the heap here.

    At the end of the line is the end user. And so that's where we go with our claims next. The Free Software Foundation says it's ludicrous for SCO to be going after an end user. They say it's like a reader going into Barnes & Noble reading a book and telling them they can't read those words or we're going to sue. But it's actually much different than that analogy.

    First, when a user gets Linux, they inherit a license agreement called the GPL (General Public License) that says you get this product free of charge, so if you have a problem with it, don't come back to us, you're on your own. The words in the GPL are "as is." It pushes all of the liability to the end user.

    The second part where their example breaks down is the fact that the end users are part of the problem - they're making copies themselves. What you'll see SCO coming out with in the next few weeks are examples of copyrighted code of ours that have been put into Linux, and the copyrights have been stripped off.

    If a reader goes home with a book, reads it, reproduces it and gives it to 500 friends, they are direct infringers. What we see happening here is nine out of 10 boxes of Linux out in the marketplace aren't paid for at all, even if they'd paid for a support contract. Once they get that Linux in their shop, they're free to reproduce it and send it around to their heart's content. They do, in fact, become copyright infringers. That's why we're going there.
    [And lets see, SCO distributed software under a LICENSE that allows you to copy the software! So, who's fault if people have accepted that license?] ...
    IBD: Some have accused SCO of using the lawsuit as a ploy to be acquired, something also hinted at by your agreements with your lawyers. Are you in talks with anyone?

    McBride: I can say generically that there
  • Re:Phew... (Score:5, Informative)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:18AM (#7890566)
    That is why you should consider visit Groklaw [groklaw.net] more often. They cover and uncover more SCO dirt than any one else on the net.
  • A book (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:28AM (#7890664) Homepage
    You are forgetting the important point. Those comments came from a common source which was public -- a book on Unix. That is the copyright holder to the code:

    a) was known
    b) had published the information with intent that it might be used in other's code
    c) and therefore did not consider this code a "trade secret"

    What this means is that in SCO's example if they are claiming copyright violation then they've crossed over from a stupid civil suit to blatent criminal acts (i.e. its a felony to claim the copyright on something you do not have the rights to)
  • by Royster (16042) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:55AM (#7890908) Homepage
    In fact, comments are probably the most copyrightable thing about software. Becuase they are free form and do not have to conform to a syntax (other than the methods of initiating and ending a comment) and because they don't have a functional purpose, they are purely expressive. Copyright protects original works of expression.

    Now the particular comments that SCO pointed out were the actual error messages printed out by the system in association with the various errors the system was prepared to report. Since the text of these messages is largely dictated by POSIX, it is no surprise that they often match SCO's even though the enumeration of them can and does vary on some architectures.
  • The USL Case (Score:4, Informative)

    by Royster (16042) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:59AM (#7890949) Homepage
    The judge in the USL case ruled that the Unix header files were uncopyrightable. There's already a ruling on the books which holds that SCO has no leg to stand on here.
  • by ryanvm (247662) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:26AM (#7891258)
    They are asking their UNIX licensees. They are well within there right to do so as such a provision is almost certainly in the contract that the licensees signed.

    Now, if they were asking random Linux users it would be another story.
  • Re:Yours truly (Score:3, Informative)

    by frisket (149522) <peter AT silmaril DOT ie> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:31PM (#7892092) Homepage
    I think I remember being taught something like "Yours truly" is correct for a letter addressed impersonally (ie to an office, rank, or status -- here "Dear Licensee"), and "Yours sincerely" is correct for a letter addressed to a named individual. But dear Miss Lanspeary's English class is sooo long ago now.

    But yes, the double meaning is interesting. I wonder if they considered "sincerely" and "faithfully" as alternatives and decided this was the least of three evils. Just "Yours" would have done. Or perhaps "Sod off"...

  • by lildogie (54998) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:39PM (#7892179)
    If some "licensee" really feels that they ought to respond to the letter, but doesn't want to do a cpu-by-cpu certification, there are standard stalling tactics that they can use to keep SCO from calling them non-compliant until IBM kills SCO.

    For example, the day before the deadline, send a letter explaining there are exigent circumstances, and asking for a 90-day extension of the deadline.

    Repeat until SCO says no, then send a "please accept under separate cover" letter, referring to a document that seems to have gotten lost in the mail. Buy more time by "searcing" for the lost document.

    When SCO demands a new copy of the document be prepared and sent, send an open envelope, and marvel at the bad luck that the contents of the envelope have been lost.

    So on and so forth.

    All you have to do is stall until SCO is killed by the big guys.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @01:54PM (#7892907)
    >>This is is a pretty good post, but that last one is right off an IBM press release. It could happen.

    According to scox's contract with novell, scox can not terminate anybody's UNIX license without expressed permission from novell. I think the contract is available on groklaw.net.

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