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SCO Uses 3rd Parties To Spread Claims In Germany 236

Posted by timothy
from the sand-filled-balloon-in-oil-is-traditional dept.
kryonD writes "According to this Computer Weekly article, SCO is no longer allowed to spread their FUD in Germany. This wasn't even a court or government order, but an out of court settlement with a small company. They even get 'fined' EU10,000 by the company for every breach of the settlement. Although, it appears from the article that SCO is side-stepping the agreement by commissioning 3rd party firms to spread their FUD for them. The settlement happened last month, but this is the first I have heard of it. I wonder what made them back down so quickly." We mentioned the settlement earlier this month (including prohibitions on making certain claims); the news is the attempt to circumvent it.
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SCO Uses 3rd Parties To Spread Claims In Germany

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  • by panxerox (575545) * on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:08PM (#8721392)
    FTA: "Gregory Blepp, vice-president of licensing at SCO in the US, said he was working to create legal conditions which require Linux users in Germany to purchase SCO's intellectual property licenses" Blepp dude come to our universe its not that bad. (i a n a l)
  • Finally!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by eLoco (459203) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:09PM (#8721395)

    A SCO story! It's about time!

    • by y2imm (700704) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:13PM (#8721439)
      Go check Groklaw. IBM is asking for a declaratory judgement. SCOX trading tomorrow should be, um, amusing.
      • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:42PM (#8721620) Homepage Journal
        Ok, so SCO is now under $8 a share, which puts it's market cap around $120 million.

        Also, it appears that SCO insiders now own less than 50% of the stock, while institutions own a like 40% and over 10% is in private hands.

        So, unlike the last time that SCO was trading as a penny stock, it might be possible for some enterprising company to just buy a controlling share for 60 million and be done with it.

        This is unless the instituational holders have some vested interest in seeing debacle continue. I would think that it there are several two and three letter companies that might be willing to pay a significant premium to make SCO go away.

      • Go check Groklaw. IBM is asking for a declaratory judgement. SCOX trading tomorrow should be, um, amusing.

        Just keep in mind that "declaratory judgement" != "summary judgement". IBM is asking for a declaration that it is not violating any of SCO's copyrights.

        Such a judgement would be a huge win, but it won't be the end of the case. It also wouldn't end the other lawsuits SCO has, because those realy aren't Linux lawsuits, despite what SCO would have you believe (ok, Linux is a component of the AutoZone

    • How are they still around? I seriously thought they'd have been gone six months ago. SCO isn't that big of a company, how are they able to afford all those lawyers and lawsuits?

      Also, what happened to Darl McBride? He used to be all over the place giving lectures and interviews. Seems to have disappeared.
      • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @11:23PM (#8722133)
        How are they still around? I seriously thought they'd have been gone six months ago. SCO isn't that big of a company, how are they able to afford all those lawyers and lawsuits?

        Microsoft. Check out some of the older stories on Microsoft's "encouragement" of investment companies to channel some of their funds into SCO. I'm too tired to provide the links tonight, but you can find it by searching for SCO under "Old Stories".

  • they should... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by abscondment (672321) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:11PM (#8721416) Homepage
    Fine SCO every time someone writes another article about them. They're being so damn frivolous that it pains me to hear anything else about them short of their ultimate demise.
    • Re:they should... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:31PM (#8721558)
      I don't think we can afford to ignore such an evil force... but maybe they should be downgraded to a weekly SCO summary. That way we can keep tabs on them while denying their ability to influence every day's news cycle.
    • Re:they should... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Maestro4k (707634) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:41PM (#8721618) Journal
      • Fine SCO every time someone writes another article about them. They're being so damn frivolous that it pains me to hear anything else about them short of their ultimate demise.
      They can't the way SCO's doing it, in the article it tells the terms, and they only apply to SCO's German subsidary and employees of that subsidary. IANAL, and not familiar with Germany's legal system, but it looks like SCO managed to sneak this by the company without them realizing the potential it allows for SCO to continue to cause trouble -- just as long as the German subsidary and its employees stay out of it.

      The company sounds pretty determined to make SCO stop (I am supposing SCO's claims are hurting their business), and had won a preliminary restraining order last year, and SCO entered into this out-of-court settlement this year instead of continuing to fight against them in court. I doubt the company's going to just take this current stuff lightly, and even though SCO hasn't violated the letter of the settlement, that won't stop the company from suing SCO's US, or whichever branch they use for the FUD of the day. I also doubt the courts will look on SCO Germany entering into an agreement to stop these exact same actions lightly. SCO will have an uphill battle to win that case.

      Of course it doesn't seem that SCO really cares if they have a chance in hell of winning a lawsuit, as long as they can spread their FUD about. (Feel free to apply whichever conspiracy theory is current as to why.)

  • ...Groan... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nicholas Evans (731773) <OwlManAtt@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:12PM (#8721427) Homepage
    This is just one of those stories where you hold your head in your hands and sigh. Now, SCO, write "I will observe the spirit of the law and not the letter" a thousand times on the board.
  • SCO... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:13PM (#8721441)
    Where the inmates really *do* run the asylum.
  • by mwooldri (696068) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:15PM (#8721450)
    If SCO can be sued and they settle by agreeing to not spread their propaganda, then it's equally possible that SCO's sidekick could be sued for exactly the same thing. Since there is a court precedent, wouldn't any company willing to do this think twice - because they would be sued too?

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:29PM (#8721541)
      I don't think SCO should be completely ignored as long as they're still alive and kicking because their FUD machine is a dangerous thing, but maybe they should be limited to one weekly roundup instead of their near-daily coverage.
    • by ctr2sprt (574731) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:30PM (#8721553)
      The key thing here is that this was an out of court settlement. So there was no verdict, no ruling, no award... no precedent. Even if the judge had mandated this, many other countries don't attach the same sort of reverence to prior judicial decisions as the US does. Our reliance on precedence comes mainly from England (specifically common law). I don't know anything about Germany's judicial system so I have no idea what weight they give prior verdicts/rulings.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        The settlement was for SCO violating an injunction which was granted by a judge. So I don't quite see your point.
      • I don't know anything about Germany's judicial system so I have no idea what weight they give prior verdicts/rulings.

        They work only in a hierarchical system. Decisions a superior court makes are practicaly seen as precedents. However it is always possible for a minor court to decide otherwise if it has reason to do so.
    • by Constantin (765902) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @01:12AM (#8722817)

      ... unlike the US. While precendents can be set, there is the Bundesgesetzbuch (BGB) that pretty much lays out the law. However, the real kicker WRT to German court law is that the loser has to pay the court costs for both sides.

      This has several interesting effects: Frivolous lawsuits are rarer, lawyers are paid much lower hourly billing rates, and health insurance is much more affordable. IMHO, this is a much more equitable way to run a legal system than the parasitic mess we have in the US.

      Frankly, the folks at SCO should be forced to post bond to assure their countersuers will have something to collect on if SCO goes out of business. Furthermore, I hope that the current management will be held personally liable for their actions while at SCO. Once pointy-headed managers see that there are reprecussions that reach beyond the destruction of a company, perhaps they'll lay off the roullette-wheel approach to attain profits.

  • by DrugCheese (266151) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:15PM (#8721452)
    Everytime anyone says SCO you'll be fined eu1000

    You said SCO!

    Oooops I said SCO!

    I said SCO again!

    NI!

  • More SCO News (Score:5, Informative)

    by tiny69 (34486) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:15PM (#8721453) Homepage Journal
    • Re:More SCO News (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BCW2 (168187) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:56PM (#8721706) Journal
      This could be the big one folks. It'll probably take another month for any kind of ruling, but if they win it settles everything in one shot. IP, the GPL (the real big one) and should carry over to Red Hat and Novell.

      Read Groklaws short post, it might put a smile on your face.
      • Re:More SCO News (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tiny69 (34486)
        This could be the big one folks. It'll probably take another month for any kind of ruling,
        From IBM's Motion to Amend Counterclaims:
        Undersigned counsel hash conferred with counsel for and counsel for SCO has stated that SCO does not oppose the filing counterclaims, subject only to its right to respond to the amended counterclaims in the ordinary course ( , by answer or motion to dismiss).
        I have a feeling that it will take longer than a month.
      • Re:More SCO News (Score:4, Insightful)

        by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon@gmaiCHEETAHl.com minus cat> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @11:45PM (#8722255) Homepage
        Probably not the big one. This only is a declaratory judgement on SCO's copyrights, which, in the Groklaw web site it mentions, SCO hasn't brought up (yet).

        If the judge says there are no copyright infringements, there could still be contract violations, which is what SCO is suing IBM over.

        This might get rid of some of the RedHat and Novell lawsuits, but not the original IBM suit.

    • Re:More SCO News (Score:4, Informative)

      by mrbuttle (587604) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:46PM (#8721980)
      And as pointed out in the replies to the groklaw story, IBM asked for the same declaratory judgment on Sept. 25, 2003 in their "Amended Counterclaims Against SCO". See item 154 in the thirteenth counterclaim here [groklaw.net].
  • by Aneurysm9 (723000) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:15PM (#8721454)
    It's this kind of behavior that helps us see why they're afraid of showing code. They think that as soon as they do someone will find a clever way around their claims, just as they would do if put in the same position. Now, that doesn't change the fact that a lot of someones will probably find a lot of clever ways around their claims, but isn't that exactly what they should want if they were living in the same world as the rest of us?
  • Not surprising ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boarder8925 (714555) <(thegreentrilby) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:16PM (#8721462) Homepage
    Although, it appears from the article that SCO is side-stepping the agreement by commissioning 3rd party firms to spread their FUD for them.
    This is not, by any means, surprising. Companies like SCO almost always get third parties to do their dirty work for them.
  • by thegrassyknowl (762218) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:17PM (#8721468)
    If SCO isn't allowed to spread FUD then wouldn't commissioning other companies to do it also not be allowed?

    The only way it would be legal is if the other company was acting on its own. If SCO paid them to say they were not acting on behalf of SCO, wouldn't that be illegal too?

    The settlement disallows employees of SCO making claims agains Linux, but by commissioning an advertising company the company becomes employeed by SCO in some sort of sense... the article said that it was a borderline tactic, but methinks that if it wound up in court SCO would be penalised.
  • by Zakabog (603757) <john@jm[ ].com ['aug' in gap]> on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:18PM (#8721481)
    Then I can scan it and finally use ghostscript's toilet paper setting, I'd print SCO liscenses for everyone!
  • by Johnathon_Dough (719310) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:20PM (#8721487)
    Gregory Blepp, vice-president of licensing at SCO in the US, said he was working to create legal conditions which require Linux users in Germany to purchase SCO's intellectual property licences.

    Since when is Gregory Blepp able to create legal conditions. At best, he can lobby congress to push the UN to make a resoltuion that Germany should make a law forcing Germans to purchase "SCO's intellectual property"....hmmm I wonder at what point they would realize the futility in that one. Or they could lobby the German govn't directly....yeah, that will go over well.

    I know there are trade agreements in place to respect IP laws, but I am curious as to how SCO can create "legal conditions" in other countries. Considering the troubles Microsoft is having in these same other countries, I would think SCO might have a slightly harder time of it.

    • by Aneurysm9 (723000) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:56PM (#8721703)
      They could "work[] to create legal conditions" the same way they are here, through litigation. If TSG succeeds in their litigation here in the US they would have effectively created legal conditions (i.e., precedent indicating Linux infringes TSG copyrights) which would pressure Linux users to purchase licenses from TSG.
  • Another suit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quinkin (601839) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:21PM (#8721497)
    Surely this could be rapidly resolved in another suit. Working from the existing settlement (although not a legal precedent) they should be easily able to get an extra injunction for not only employees, but also any contracted individuals or companies.

    Q.

  • by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:29PM (#8721543)
    Aren't people already suspecting SCO is doing Microsoft's dirty work in its fight against OSS?

    SCO got a German PR agency to write their claims in a news release. Since it's pretty obvious that no PR agency would by itself do so, couldn't SCO still be fined for making these claims, even if not directly? Even so, the agreement should've stopped "the claims being made" rather than "SCO making the claims," since SCO markedly benefits by the claims and can almost always be shown responsible for some random third-party's claim.

    Interesting that this gains its strength through an out-of-court settlement with a private company that extends a temporary injunction against SCO's claims. Some US group (EFF? Red Hat? OSDN? Netscape? Isn't there a group of Linux vendors? FSF?) should try to do the same - get something small done in court, to say "We're not afraid of fighting this in court," then extend that considerably out of court with a promise to return to court.

    Heh, the ad on this article is GlobalServers' "Stop worrying about SCO" ad.
    • If Microsoft were behind this SCO wouldn't be going bizerk.
      It dose appear to be a deliberate attack on open souce but let me make this perfictly clear Microsoft is NOT the only company intrested in the failure of open source.
      In fact Microsoft is much less conserned about open souce and more about Linux. Attacking open souce and the GPL is a proxy attack for Microsoft like slamming the one button mouse or "all in one" systems is an indirect slam on the iMac and Mac Classic.

      However a number of far less succe
  • IANAL, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @09:38PM (#8721596) Journal
    I don't see how hiring a public relations firm is a meaningful separation of enjoined action (continued public unsubstantiated allegations of copyright violation) from enjoined actor (employees of SCO). In other words, if I'm legally prohibited from doing an act, aren't I usually legally prohibited from hiring an agent to do it for me?

    I guess not always. But it seems like it sure should have been in this case, and if the settlement had that loophole then shame on Univention's lawyers for letting that slip.

    Another interesting point, too. According to the Groklaw article [groklaw.net] about the settlement, the per-offense fine is only about 10,000 euros. That's not a lot, really; just a tiny extra bit of marketing budget for the FUD machine. Is that really all the teeth the settlement has?

    • IANAL (yet) either, but I do know enough to know that there is a difference between an employee and in independent contractor. The question will probably be whether the outside firm qualifies as an employee or is only an IC. That's no excuse for Univention's lawyers allowing the loophole in the first place though. It should have said 'TSG or their agent' from the beginning.
  • FUD? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neon Spiral Injector (21234) * on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:24PM (#8721853)
    I just thought of this, with the number of times the summary said, "FUD".

    Can we really call the crap SCO is spewing, "FUD"? At this point, no one fears them, everyone is certain they are making this stuff up as they go, of that there is no doubt.

    I think the term adds too much credibility to SCO's statements.
  • by ocularDeathRay (760450) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:32PM (#8721893) Journal
    now I lay me down, to sleep
    I pray the lord, my linux keep
    and if I die, before I wake
    please cause the failure, of Darl's brakes.

    -AMEN-
  • by Felinoid (16872) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:34PM (#8721906) Homepage Journal
    There.. in the title and everything... IANAL

    But if SCO agrees not to spread propaganda and then used proxies to spread propaganda didn't they just violate the agreement?

    SCO seams to have a very... creative interpretation of laws as they apply to them and others.

    I've recently had the opratunity to read vareous text files on how to steal, rip off, blow up, etc etc etc by the crooks that use and perficted those techniques.
    Very intresting read if you know how to read between the lines. Basicly they have very unusual/odd interpretations of the applicable laws.

    For example one crook has a whole detailed thing on how to get out the door with stuff he didn't buy and create the illusion that he did. (Probably dosen't work anymore).
    The intresting part is how he views the applicable laws. He seems to believe that you need to get out the door before you can be stopped for theft. I've observed a few occasions where a crook was cought BEFORE leaving the store. Again IANAL but it sure as heck looks like he was cought dead to rights but I'd have to see how it played out in the corts before I'd know.

    The diffrence between the typical crook and SCO is most of what the typical crook is doing is trying to NOT envoke the law no matter how much he believes its on his side. SCO however isn't making any such efforts.
  • Inciting a riot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:34PM (#8721909) Journal
    as strange as this seems in most area when a person talks a group of other into doing something ilegal they are acomplices and it they cause a crowd to riot they are charged too.

    I don't know about germany's laws but wouldn't the association with the persons doing the action that SCO tryed and was bared from basicaly the same as inciting a riot. Couldn't they still be held acountable anyways loop holes or not. i think it would be the same as if a mob boss ordered the execution of someone, even though somone else did the killing the mob bos can get the rap for it.

    well at least thats what i think it should be like. anyone know if it would be that way in germany?
  • by metroid composite (710698) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:41PM (#8721953) Homepage Journal
    And in other news, SCO raises the price of SCO Unix to $10,699.
  • by Sfing_ter (99478) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:48PM (#8721992) Homepage Journal
    As Joseph Goebbels said, that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will end up believing it.

    This is what SCrOtum's plan is, to keep the FUD spewing forth and just the politicians who keep getting elected, it is what the "people" know, because they keep hearing about it.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @10:53PM (#8722010) Homepage
    All in all, I'm very impressed by the European attitude about corporate FUD, I suspect this "end-round" will not work well for SCO in the short or long run. The Europeans seem less inclined to accept bullshit from silly American companies. More, they seem to be able to more quickly address silly American corporat BULLSHIT, and say things like "gee, that's nice, but it doesn't apply here, go home."

    Yes, I know, there is much to not like about European politics and they sometimes have strange ways about doing things. And the taxes, holy cow. But at least they know that the United States does not rule the world.

  • Forget SCO for a moment. Suppose party X owns copyrights on something (no, I mean they really own them...I said forget about SCO). They notice party Y is infringing. What is the logic in saying that X can't say that Y is infringing?

    Whenever I'm infringing someone else's copyright, I want them to tell me so I can stop or buy a license. I don't want them to keep silent until they are ready to sue me.

    • by oldgeezer1954 (706420) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @11:43PM (#8722243)

      I assume you're talking about the SCO case though regardless of your example. In the SCO case SCO was making public statements. In Germany a local linux organization or group (not sure of their exact status) took SCO to court.

      Under their laws they were, in layman's terms, request an order that SCO put up or shut up. If SCO had put up they could have continued to talk about it and as well taken whatever action they felt necessary under the law. But SCO failed after the court gave them the grace period to provide some proof. The judge then issued the shut up order as the law provides.

      I agree you want to know when you're infringing someone elses rights. In the US as in Germany people involved in Linux have been saying please tell us where it is and we'll remove your property . SCO has refused, so far.

      At the same time would you want ACME Software House running around screaming that code you wrote was theirs? I doubt it. You'd better hire some lawyers and get cracking... And face the loss of business while ACME is lying... You don't have the benefit of a put up or shut up law to deal with those types of criminals. And SCO are criminals. Maybe not by criminal law but by any accepted moral standard.

    • by rajafarian (49150) * on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @12:13AM (#8722476)
      Ok, just suppose for a moment that I kept telling you that you may be infringing on my copyright so you owe me money but when you ask me for proof so that you can stop or buy a license from me I say, "No, I won't tell you but I'll be happy to sell you a license." What do you think now, would you just give me money?
  • Didn't the city of Munich recently switch to Linux for their operations? Wasnt that a HUGE loss for MS?
  • Who pays the piper? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Slashamatic (553801) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @11:53PM (#8722321)
    It appears that our friends at SCO commissioned a PR agency to translate and circulate their illegal and ridiculous claims. In this case, a SCO employee briefed the agency so SCO remain guilty of the public circulation of their claims. The only get out is if the PR company took direct instructions from Utah.

    It is a pity that the PR company isn't named. Linux is getting well established as a server platform in many of Germany's largest banks and IBM are quite powerful there too.

  • I mean come on, raise your hand if you're really surprised by this. These people are clearly betting the farm with the claims they're making in the hopes that they'll either be bought out by Big Blue or win the case by dazzling a Judge with bullshit. It shouldn't be news for anyone here to find out that they're willing to violate a legal agreement. After all, they've already torn up the GPL and started shoving US copyright law into the shredder several pages at a time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    With the recent stocks, I see new waves of spam mails:

    Just buy 101'000 IP licenses and get 1 SCO for free!
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @03:02AM (#8723248) Homepage Journal
    And this is the problem. These people justify their greedy money-grubbing ways to themselves and do not feel shame for their actions. You see, a normal person would be ashamed if everyone was of the opinion that he was trying to steal the work of thousands of people around the world who were just doing what they love to make computing a better experience. A normal person would feel shame at putting thousands of people out of work. A normal person would feel a twinge of guilt over manipulating the stock market for their personal gain. A normal person would not be able to look himself in the mirror if he cheated tens of thousands of his employees out of their retirements.

    But not the current crop of CEOs, oh no. They'll fuck anyone and everyone over so that they can make a buck. Or several million of them.

    What we need is a mandatory Samauari-style honor code for corporate upper management. With mandatory seppku for the most grevious infractions. Even if the upper management at MCI, Tyco and Enron were completely spotless, they should have all ritually disemboweled themselves for the shameful actions that took place at their companies on their watches. We should expect no less from the people who are the custodians of our fortunes.

    "Oh Sure, Mr Fox," you might say, "like that will ever happen!" But it can. All we really need to do is each and every one of us teach our children to live with honor. We can start with a code as simple as "Never lie, never do anything you know is wrong and never do anything you would be ashamed of," and we can go from there.

    Of course, the current crop of CEOs would have to have right from wrong spelled out for them, since apparently even the letter and spirit of the law wasn't enough of a hint, but I don't think it'd be an insurmountable goal.

    • So, Darl's cut open his belly and his guts are out on the floor, and he's dying with honour...

      You're the guy holding the katana, and it's your job to decapitate him before his screams of agony dishonour his death.

      Here's your moral dilemma:

      Do you just let him die howling like an animal, or do you record it for posterity and post it on P2P?

  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @03:22AM (#8723327)
    Ficken sie, arseloch..

    Liebe, Deutscheland..
  • by peterpi (585134) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @04:28AM (#8723523)
    What's SCO's stance on FreeBSD?

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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