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Appeals Court Overturns 2007 Unix Copyright Decision 330

Posted by kdawson
from the long-dark-teatime dept.
snydeq writes "A federal appeals court has overturned a 2007 decision that Novell owns the Unix code, clearing the way for SCO to pursue a $1 billion copyright infringement case against IBM. In a 54-page decision (PDF), the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said it was reversing the 2007 summary judgment decision by Judge Dale Kimball of the US District Court for the District of Utah, which found that Novell was the owner of Unix and UnixWare copyrights. SCO CEO Darl McBride called the decision a 'huge validation for SCO.'" The case over who owns Unix will now go to trial in Utah.
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Appeals Court Overturns 2007 Unix Copyright Decision

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  • Re:Is it (Score:5, Informative)

    by CozmicCharlie (1471823) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @08:20AM (#29184747)
    It's no big deal. Really. The appeals court did say that New SCO owes Novell a bunch of $$. ($ they already spent.) The rest goes to trial. And this ruling has nothing to do with the IBM case. IBM has maintained all along that there was NO infringing code. SCO will likely be gone long before this ever gets settled.
  • Re:Groklaw coverage (Score:2, Informative)

    by db32 (862117) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @08:25AM (#29184811) Journal
    In the meantime everyone who uses or sells Linux stuff that isn't a giant like Novell is stuck in the crosshairs. The damage has been done already...the one thing that served to mitigate continued damage has been removed. Terribly damned convenient timing to have Linux called into question right before Windows 7 is coming to try and save MS from their Vista failures... My organization has been discussing the potential of a Linux desktop shift because of the draconian licensing involved with Vista/Win7...I suspect this news may cause problems. There is NO WAY that this will be resolved before the Win7 release unless MS pushes it back a long ways. What a mess...
  • Re:Groklaw coverage (Score:5, Informative)

    by growse (928427) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @08:27AM (#29184843) Homepage
    Novell Response [novell.com]
    Novell points out that the Judge affirmed the payment ($3million) SCO was ordered to make to Novell, so there's hope yet.
  • NOT ! (Score:5, Informative)

    by frith01 (1118539) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @08:33AM (#29184909)

    Appeals court only determined that the contract is a mess, and cannot be interpreted on its own. The court agreed that SCO owes Novell a large portion of the
    money it received from SUN , and that a full trial is required to figure out the rest. Again this is just more delay for SCO, but SCO will soon be in Trustee-ship under chapter 11 bankruptcy, which means that it is HIGHLY likely that these cases will be closed by SCO itself, and settled in favorable terms to Novell & IBM.

    Darl will not be in control of SCO once the trustee is assigned, and then we'll really get to find out who's been behind this mess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @08:42AM (#29185017)

    Note that:

    1- Novell board voted not to approve sale of any UNIX copyrights before this APA deal ever was signed.

    2 - Santa Cruz Operation (original SCO) never took Novell to court at all (maybe they knew that the APA and Amendment were both clear to them and that they didn't get copyrights)?

    3- The original SCO (Santa Cruz Operations) never did not do a final transfer of copyright paper work from NOVELL. That paperwork never happened, and Santa Cruz Operations never changed the UNIX code to show they had registration rights to the code). So they KNEW something.

    4- Santa Cruz Operations SEC filings never said they owned UNIX ever. DARL when Caldera/newSCO/The SCO group did say this in their SEC filings (why the change of tune, when the one who did the deal never declared this in SEC filings at all)?

    5- DARL and newSCO (TheSCO Group who became TheSCO Group by changing their name from Caldera), asked Novell for the copyrights BEFORE trying to sue LINUX users and IBM, etc.

    6 - Santa Cruz Operations after the deal only collected 5% income from sales so why did they need the deal when Santa Cruz Operations already had RIGHTS to develop a "branch of Unix", why pay more money to do the same thing? Hmm, maybe to use the LIST of licensees that they go to market something else to the list (like Tarantella)?

    7 - So ask yourself why the US court system has to go thru an expensive trial on this at all?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @08:44AM (#29185037)

    And yes, they did do a but of modelling on the slow zombie infestation and you HAD to act hard and quick or else the zombies would win.

    The BBC had something on it recently on their website.

  • ignorance (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @08:53AM (#29185147)

    Did the moron who wrote this bunch of lies actually bother reading what happened?

    Even though SCO lie in just about every press release for years why do people spout the lies they tell :(

  • Re:Groklaw coverage (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @09:17AM (#29185459) Homepage

    Oh, please, now that they've been tossed another lifeline, Uncle Fester Investments [theregister.co.uk] will drop $3 million pocket change on them to keep this rattling on.

  • Re:Groklaw coverage (Score:4, Informative)

    by gtall (79522) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @09:23AM (#29185541)

    This has nothing to do with Linux, it is merely an argument over Unix copyrights. SCO has never been able to show any Unix code in Linux. Their beef with Novell centered on the Unix copyrights.Their beef with IBM wandered around witlessly for awhile and finally centered on Unix in AIX or contract disputes involving the Monterrey project. SCO hasn't been making noises about Linux for awhile...for good reason, other then putting Linux on their own servers for download, they have nothing to do with it.

  • Re:WOOT!! FINALLY (Score:5, Informative)

    by Insanity Defense (1232008) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @09:35AM (#29185661)

    Now that SCO has been rightfully named the owner of the code behind unix

    Actual facts:

    1/ The ruling leaves SCO owing Novell $2.5 Million + Interest.

    2/ The rest of the case (including copyright ownership) goes to a jury trial.

    3/ If SCO somehow wins they get no money.

    4/ SCO then gets to go ahead with the IBM lawsuit which they were losing badly.

    5/ The SCO management has been ordered (by the bankruptcy judge) to be replaced by a trustee. A trustee who may or may not continue the lawsuits. He/she may choose to try and negotiate a way out to stop the bleeding.

    6/ After the SCO vs Novell trial if the trustee pursues it there is still the IBM trial.

    So the trustee has a problem. The company money is owed to Novell and they don't have the cash to continue until the case goes to trial (which will be delayed due to the new judge needing time to come up to speed).

    Only then can they go on with the IBM trial. To make money off the IBM trial they need to have won on the key issues in the Novell trial (copyright and right to waive), they also need to beat the IBM lawyers (who are not nicknamed the Nazgul for nothing).

    Even if somehow the trustee can be persuaded to fight these cases and manages to win what are the odds that neither Novell or IBM would appeal? What are the chances that SCO can survive long enough to fight through the appeals if it comes to that?

    At most this is a lesser defeat for SCO. So long as they owe Novell the money and still have to fight the trial they are still doomed. The chances that the trustee would be willing to keep the company bleeding to fight dubious lawsuits is pretty low.

  • Re:Groklaw coverage (Score:4, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @09:58AM (#29185977)

    In the meantime everyone who uses or sells Linux stuff that isn't a giant like Novell is stuck in the crosshairs.

    Not hardly. SCO hasn't proved it owns the Copyright.

    It also has failed to prove that ANY Unix code is in Linux - remember, discovery is over in SCO vs IBM, where they alleged that very thing. And they didn't manage to come up with any infringing code.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @11:21AM (#29187173)

    where the hell SCO is getting the money from to pay for a decade of litigation. How has SCO managed to survive two recessions and continue to base a business model solely around endless litigation? Dear SCO: I have a great idea for a futile court case, who is your angel investor? PS: Your money would have been better spent hiring engineers and developing new products.

    Apparently they got the money from an investment fund called BayStar [businessweek.com].

  • Re:wtf (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThePhilips (752041) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @11:36AM (#29187407) Homepage Journal

    It's a clear case of the "badsummary". Just check Groklaw [groklaw.net].

    As I have understood it, it was only summary judgment which was overturned. IOW, there would be a trial.

  • Re:Groklaw coverage (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @11:39AM (#29187455)

    This case is not about end-users, but about whether SCO even has standing to begin to sue Linux end-users. Which it doesn't (the nature of their copyright deal with Novell was pretty clear, but apparently not enough for a summary judgement).

    In the very unlikely event that SCO wins this case, big end-users like IBM may again have to begin to worry about defending against SCO's bizarre claims.

    Whether or not they own Unix copyrights is only one facet of failure. If they do own the copyright none of their code is in Linux anyway, even if there was they already GPL'ed the code. The entire case is moot on multiple levels.

  • by Tweenk (1274968) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:15PM (#29188067)

    I don't know if it's the mostly American readership (a nation known for preferring violence over sex), but almost nobody here seems to understand that quote. It doesn't mean "only the incompetent use violence as the last resort", or "wars are wrong and everybody should love each other". It is not a pacifist maxim; It's more a reflection on the means of conflict. It means "if you use violence, it will be the last thing you do, and will prove your incompetence to handle the situation". The Foundation books made it clear that Asimov's definition of violence did not include things like armed deterrence, espionage, psychological manipulation, or even assassination if it meant avoiding a large scale conflict. It meant direct physical violence that results in death of people or destruction of property. In that light, violence is a proof of incompetence, because a competent leader would be able to take over the people and property to use them to his own ends, rather than destroying them.

  • by Tweenk (1274968) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:19PM (#29188149)

    It is quite clear that all along in history, violence solved a lot of problem.

    It did, but it was never the most expedient way to solve the problem, because it resulted in the destruction of people and property. Asimov's maxim is not about pacifism; it is about using more effective tools of war (like espionage, political influence, psychological manipulation, propaganda or even assassination) that do not destroy valuable resources.

  • by Insanity Defense (1232008) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:28PM (#29188333)

    The TRUE facts: 1/ The ruling reinforces SCO's case that THEY own Unix.

    The ruling says that the ownership is REMANDED to a jury trial. In otherwords that the ownership is currently not decided by the courts. They both claim ownership but a jury must decide.

    2/ The rest of the case is strengthened by this decision, and SCO still has lots of proof that Linux is an illegal derivative of Unix.

    Nothing in the case was decided in SCOs favour. What was decided was that certain issues (such as copyright ownership) were to be decided by a jury trial not by summary judgment as had been done. At most this means that SCO might possibly in the future get a beneficial ruling from a jury.

    3/ When SCO wins they will begin to collect a lot of money from investors and companies like Novell and Red Hat who continue to use and distribute Linux illegally.

    To have a chance at collecting money they need to win two things in SCO vs Novell.

    1/ Copyright ownership

    2/ Demonstrate that the contractual right to waive does not apply to SCO vs IBM.

    4/ SCO's case against IBM is solid (see above, re solid evidence that IBM took Unix code and put it into Linux illegally), they may not be able to win the patent counter-lawsuit that IBM launched against them, but what else would one expect from a company that supported the Nazis.

    SCO avoided showing any solid evidence in SCO vs IBM and at this point all that really is left in that case is IBMs counter claims against SCO.

    Please provide for us the "solid evidence" that you claim SCO has. They seem to have lost both Blepps briefcase and the "MIT Deep Divers". IBM on the other hand presented such things as the internal SCO memo stating they couldn't find ANY infringements.

    5/ The SCO trustee will have access to all of SCO's evidence and will see that the case is solid and worth persuing. SCO has lots of investors waiting in the wings to support this effort for justice.

    The trustee will have access to the evidence. Time will tell what he thinks of it. Where have SCOs investors been during the bankruptcy case? They could have picked up a large part of ownership of the company for a relative song if they KNEW that the evidence was "solid" as you claim.

    6/ After the SCO vs Novell trial if the trustee pursues it there is still the IBM trial, which SCO is strongly positioned to win.

    At present SCO is strongly positioned in SCO vs IBM to be ripped apart and fed to the carrion birds. They MUST win the 2 issues mentioned above even to have a chance of winning SOMETHING in SCO vs IBM.

    Sure the trustee will be taking a huge risk when so much of the industry is biased against SCO. Luckily he will have access to all of SCO's knowledge and experience in dealing with the insane Linux community and the biased industry press (except for Rob Enderle and Daniel Lyons, two voices of reason in an otherwise corrupt and heavily biased press).

    Time will tell. I am sure that if SCO had the "solid evidence" the trials would have ended years ago in SCOs favour. Yet they haven't.

    SCO vs Daimler Chrylser lost

    SCO vs Novell partly lost (and they owe Novell $millions$) and partly waiting for trial.

    SCO in bankruptcy protection without the money to survive the time required for the legal figtht.

  • Re:Years of appeals (Score:3, Informative)

    by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witnessNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:39PM (#29189437) Homepage Journal

    Jokes aside, what does this mean for Linux? Is it protected from SCO coming after anybody who makes a *nix based OS?

    Doesn't mean anything new.

    All it is saying is that (i) SCO owes Novell more than before, and (ii) summary judgements were not the right means of decision - that a jury needed to hear some of it.

    There is nothing saying that Linux infringes anything, that IBM did anything improper (as this is SCO v. Novell, not SCO v. IBM), or anything else. Just that it needs to be tried by a jury instead of a judge.

    Oh, and don't forget - Darl & Co are no longer in charge of SCO; the bankruptcy court is in the process of replacing them with a Trustee. So this does not mean anything with regards to what SCO will or even can do after this point. The Trustee may decide it will be a losing battle and to drop every litigation it can; though that would likely mean paying out to Novell, IBM, and others for being harassed by SCO. But it is now the Trustee that decides what to do next - appeals, litigation, etc.

  • Re:Groklaw coverage (Score:3, Informative)

    by sabt-pestnu (967671) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:44PM (#29189525)

    And given that
    * SCOG is currently in chapter 11 bankruptcy
    * ... WITH a trustee managing it (not the board)
    * AND has to pay $3m - that it doesn't have - affirmed from the original summary judgment order
    it is unlikely they will initiate any NEW lawsuits in the near future.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @01:57PM (#29189715) Journal

    One girl told him bluntly: "My mother says violence never solves anything."

    "So?" Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly. "I'm sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that. Why doesn't your mother tell them so? Or why don't you?"

    They had tangled before - since you couldn't flunk the course, it wasn't necessary to keep Mr. Dubois buttered up. She said shrilly, "You're making fun of me! Everybody knows that Carthage was destroyed!"

    "You seem to be unaware of it," he said grimly. "Since you do know it, wouldn't you say that violence had settled their destinies rather thoroughly? However, I was not making fun of you personally; I was heaping scorn on an inexcusably silly idea - a practice I shall always follow. Anybody who clings to the historically untrue - and thoroughly immoral - doctrine that 'violence never solves anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedom."

    - Robert A. Heinlein, "Starship Troopers"

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