Let's Put SCO Behind Bars
Posted 6 Aug 2003 at 03:41 UTC by MichaelCrawford
While the lawsuits being defended by IBM and filed by Red Hat are
likely to put an end to
The SCO Group's menace to the Free
Software community, I don't think simply putting the company out
of business is likely to prevent us from being threatened this
way again by other companies who are enemies to our community. I
feel we need to send a stronger message.
If we all work together, we can put
of the SCO Group in prison where they belong.
If you live in the U.S., please write a letter to your state
If you live elsewhere, please write your national or provincial law
enforcement authorities. Please ask that the SCO Group be prosecuted for
criminal fraud and extortion.
It makes me very sad to write this, because I lived in Santa Cruz for
fifteen years. Sam Sjogren, a close friend from Caltech, was one of SCO's
first programmers, and for a little while my only friend in town after
I transferred to UCSC. Many of my best friends use to work for SCO either
writing code or doing tech support. I even used to sit in the company
hot tub with my friends who worked there from time to time.
Before I ever used Linux, I was a happy user of a fully-licensed
copy of SCO Open Desktop on my 386.
You wouldn't think the SCO Group of today is the same company that
once had to tell its employees that they shouldn't be naked at work
between 9 and 5 because they scared the visiting suits from AT&T. That's
because it's not - the SCO Group got its name and intellectual property
from SCO through an acquisition. I don't think any of the friends I
once knew at the company are likely to still be working there. The
SCO Group is in Utah. SCO was originally called The Santa
Cruz Operation, a small father-and son consulting firm
named for a beautiful small town between
the mountains and the ocean in central California. The
Santa Cruz Operation was once as much a bunch of freethinking hippies
as any Linux hacker of today.
Yes, it makes me sad. But I digress.
It seems that
SCO is asking a license fee of $699 for each Linux installation. Take a
look at SCO's
press release announcing the licensing program. That's just the
introductory price - if we don't purchase our licenses before October 15, the price will increase to $1399.
I have three computers that run Linux. That means SCO claims I must pay
$2097 today, or $4197 if I wait until after October 15. SCO says their
fee applies even to devices running embedded linux, many of which were
purchased by their owners for far less than SCO's "license fee".
My response is that SCO is guilty of criminal fraud and extortion. I didn't
violate SCO's copyright or acquire their trade secrets through any illegal
means, and it is fraud for them to claim that I did. It is extortion for
them to tell me I must pay them money to avoid a lawsuit.
Rather than paying their fee, my response will be to write a letter to
the Maine State Attorney General to ask that they prosecute SCO. I'm
going to include substantive documentation, like a hardcopy of SCO's
claim that I must pay them this fee, as well as IBM's and RedHat's
responses to SCO.
I'm also going to write to the Federal Trade Commission to ask that
SCO be investigated for illegal trade practices.
If you live in the United States, I ask you to write a similar letter to
your state Attorney General, as well as to the Federal Trade Commission.
If you live in a state where a Linux distro vendor is located, or a
company that has a lot of Linux installations - doesn't Amazon use it? -
write to your elected representatives to ask that they work with the
state and federal law enforcement authorities to see that these business
If you live in a different country, write to the head of your national
or provincial law enforcement agency, and write to your government about
it to protect Linux businesses and users in your country. Certainly every
German should be clamoring to protect SuSE, and every Frenchman should be
crying out for the French government to protect Mandrake.
If you have the financial means and are willing to go to the
trouble, please consider filing your own lawsuit
to get an injunction against SCO.
I'd like to see how they deal with such lawsuits going on in all
fifty states simultaneously. I don't think even SCO has the money
to pay that many lawyers. Perhaps this would be a good project for the
larger Linux user groups.
The National Association of Attorneys General
Full Contact List for the Attorneys General. Perhaps people who live
in other countries can reply by giving the addresses of the legal
authorities your countrymen should write to.
Please send your complaint in a written letter, sent via snail mail. They
will pay more attention to letters than email. Be reasonable, rational,
and as brief as possible. Include some supporting documentation, such
as relevant press releases from SCO,
and IBM, as well as the legal complaints from
and (if they make it available) Red Hat.
Be sure to tell your Attorney General where they can find the suspects:
The SCO Group
355 South 520 West
Lindon, Utah 84042 USA
Consider posting the text of the letter you will write as a reply to
this article so others may use it as an example.
It would help to include in your letter an
estimate the total license fees that would have
to be paid by residents and businesses of your state, nation or
province if SCO's threat is allowed to stand, and to emphasize
that many of those who are threatened are in no position to pay.
Please copy and distribute this article according to the terms of the
following legal notice:
Copyright © 2003 Michael D. Crawford.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/1.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Can we not wait until SCO's fallacies are exposed during its own lawsuit,
then there'll be more meat to base our counter-claims on?
For one thing, it would save IBM and Red Hat both a lot of money if we helped out now.
It's best to get something going as soon as possible. Partially because SCO is doing a lot of damage their press releases, no matter how insubstantial their claims. It's important to have counters to that start to appear. This kind of thing is an excellent way to make that happen. It dovetails well with RedHat's suit.
Do it now., posted 6 Aug 2003 at 04:14 UTC by ncm »
The damage to Linux is being done now, and the longer it goes
on, the more damage is being done. MS handed over ~$10M
to fund this attack. SCO's charter provides that it will
pay the legal expenses of all the executives. Let's make
SCO spend MS's money defending its own executives against
criminal charges, instead of spending it on attacking Linux.
Let's make SCO explain to reporters why their executives are
Besides illegal trade practices, they can be indicted for
securities fraud, on the basis of their "pump-and-dump" game,
and maybe for barratry, which is threatening to sue without
legal foundation or standing, and for extortion. The accusation
should be filed against the individual officers, not the
corporation; criminal activity "pierces the corporate veil",
leaving the principals and the board members personally
responsible for criminal acts done under the name of the
There are many rumors as to why SCO is trying to pull this ruse on the industry, some plausible, some faux. Here's a brief synopsis of some of them:
According to this NASDAQ chart, they have had 10 out of their 13 shareholders
performing "insider trades" in the last 3 months. Is this a coincidence? Or conspiracy? SCO has another earnings call on August 14th. I urge everyone who can dial into the conference number
to do so. There's a lot more to this than meets-the-eye. They gave their own management team shares valued at something like $0.0001 and then sold them at the current market price, making a
While it is true that Microsoft is funding their legal defense, one has to ask, why? What does Microsoft want with SCO? The answer: Nothing. If SCO takes a big
bite out of Linux and IBM, both in the media and in the business sector, and then implodes themselves, causing "customer" damage to both communities (the Linux community and IBM's customers),
who benefits? Who is left when SCO, Linux, and IBM all implode? Microsoft and Sun. How interesting. And if Microsoft does it through the simple writing of a check, they don't muddy their
Business confidence in Linux is waning, because of the threat of legal action against the Linux community for "piracy", or for "stelaing code". Managers who aren't familiar with the
Free Software development model will assume that Linux got as far and as fast as it did (divers hardware support, application stability, etc.) through "theft", and they'll go use a different
solution instead. This hurts the adoption of Linux overall.
You have to wonder why SCO chose to have a federal legal team, headed
up by David Boies, the same federal attorney who was involved in the Microsoft Antitrust case, the Napster case, and the Bush election recount issues.. SCO clearly knew, and wanted
this to get right up to the top, into federal courts. Since IBM can hold their breath longer than any company, this could take years, even a decade or more, to litigate. In this time, who
takes the hit? IBM, IBM's customers, and the Linux community.
Intellectual Property Play
As Eben Moglen (the FSF's General Counsul) has previously stated, holding a piece of property that may contain someone else's IP, is not a copyright infringement. It becomes a
copyright infringement when that property is redistributed, sold, or modified, without consent of the copyright holder.
Also, NO Linux users or companies are liable because the license
which was transferred to them (the GPL) did not contain any "exclusions" containing mention of any IP or other company property in it.
"If you buy a car from an auto dealer,
and you find out that the car sold to you was a stolen car, are you liable for the theft?"
Additionally, the baseless claim that SCO owns any work that IBM itself
produces in-house, is ludicrous. IBM purchases a license to use the SystemV source tree in their AIX product. They expand the capabilities of SysV to include NUMA, or SMP, or RCU. That
new creation (which was not part of the SysV source which was transferred to IBM during the purchase of the license), belongs to IBM, not SCO. It is a copyrighted work of IBM, not SCO.
SCO cannot claim any ownership of something they did not create.
"If your photograph appears in a magazine, does the magazine now own the copyrights to your
Also, SCO has been distributing the Linux kernel, including sources, with the GPL license itself included, since 2001, and still continues to distribute
it even today. SCO noticed the alleged "IP violations" back in 2001, and did nothing about them then. They still continued to distribute the Linux source they themselves claimed was
As Eben himself so poignantly stated:
"SCO cannot argue that people who received a copyrighted work
from SCO, with a license allowing them to copy, modify and redistribute, are not permitted to copy, modify and distribute.."
The Golden Parachute Play
SCO is a dead company. They know it. UnixWare is not innovating. UnixWare can't compete with Linux, and certainly not without copying OUR code into
THEIR codebase. Linux has surpassed them, with the help of many thousands of community contributors, as well as many big commercial companies like HP, Dell, and yes, even IBM.
they were "shorted" by these customers, and they want a piece of the Linux "pie". They'll go and attack Linux, claiming that Linux contains their source code, and hope that one of these
larger companies buys them out to shut them up. This is a double-edged sword, however, and I'm glad that IBM and other companies have seen through it. If IBM buys SCO, in the eyes of the
media and the community, it will appear that IBM was "wrong", and bought SCO to shut them up. Nobody will trust the code that IBM contributes from that point forward. Additionally, the senior
management team at SCO gets rich on the buyout, as well as their numerous illegal insider trades, and they float happily to the ground in their golden parachutes with their insider trades
filling their pockets.
The GPL is not a EULA, it is a way to further strengthen what already exists, copyright. Once the GPL is violated, your rights to use it are removed, and every single violation after
that is now a copyright violation, not a GPL violation. This means you can now use the US Legal Court System to enforce your copyright claims. Every author who has copyrighted code in
Linux (hundreds, maybe thousands of us) can start looking through to find places where SCO has redistributed our code against our license, the GPL.
There is no spoon..
SCO has repeatedly claimed that there are "hundreds of thousands of lines" of infringing code that they believe belongs to them. They have yet to show this
code, except for a few small "dubious" snippets here and there under a very heavy NDA agreement. This is not "opening up the code" as they have stated they will do. What should we do? If we
don't know where the code is, how do we begin to investigate it ourselves? Maybe there is infringing code in Linux, but where?
Simple, the Thomas Edison approach. Look through the
entire codebase, and find out where the code is clearly NOT infringing, and remove that. What you will have left, is code that is unknown in origin, or potentially infringing. Consult
the maintainers/submitters of that code, and have them rewrite it. Typically in cases where copyright infringement is an issue, the accused is given a chance to remove the coprighted work,
and replace it with another. In this case, SCO is not allowing anyone to do this, and in fact, since they've alleged that they knew since 2001 that "their" code was in our Linux source tree,
they neglected to notify anyone of this. You can't just see a copyright violation, and wait a few years to allow it to propagate, THEN persue litigation. That's not how the law work
The end result is that this is nothing but a ruse, a joke, and a method for SCO to try to take one last bite out of Linux, before they implode, and everyone at SCO gets rich in the
meantime. There is also the backstage puppeteer here pulling the (purse)strings, Microsoft. You have to wonder what they have to gain from this.. oh wait, no you don't.
Gak, I hit Post instead of Preview on my last entry..
One thing I wanted to also mention, is that SCO is claiming that Linux users using Linux on embedded devices must also pay a licensing fee, and that they "own" Linux (which they do not, never will, and can't even try to claim such ludicrousy)..
What I want to know is, how can they claim their IP is only around SMP, NUMA, RCU, and then claim that embedded Linux devices are somehow required to fall under the SCO licensing scheme? When was the last time you saw an embedded Linux router with NUMA? A Linux-PDA with SMP?
By my count thus far for machines I personally own and run here, I would currently owe them $8,388.00, and $16,788.00 by the 15th. I would absolutely love them to stop on by to try to collect this "license" fee.
I believe we need courageous individuals now refusing SCO's fraud. Though he will need to be represented by an articulate lawyer who specializes in IP. Are not there such persons in US? Cannot Lessig or another known figure help with such a case?
I also suspect it is Microsoft behind acts of SCO. If that is so, we should prove that and send Microsoft to court as well.
The outcome is clear I think. This is just the beginning.
re: hacker, posted 6 Aug 2003 at 12:43 UTC by exa »
Yeah. I installed linux kernels myself on the beowulf cluster here. 33 of them makes a lot of licensing fees, right? Let them try to take $23067 from me.
I invite them to come and sue me in my country. I will show them the finger at court. Bozos.
The best treatment we should give them is tar and feathers. I wouldn't mention what they really deserve. I have never seen an international SCAM like this. They should be severely punished. We shouldn't allow them to get away with it.
to sco's amended complaint on June 16.
What i noticed is that SCO demands trial by jury on all issues so triable. This is a fairly complicated case on the ownership to collective Intellectual Property. How the court is going to consider who qualifies to be on the jury? For an average Joe Ma Ma who never care too much about creating a piece of intellectual property to be sold, resold, give for free to one or any or all interested markets, parties, will this Joe Ma Ma unquestionably suited to be sitting among the jury to cast his vote, like if he does what he believes is right, what he believes is going to prevail? Not a chance!
ps. to post a bonus from David Letterman's show last night. "Bush went on a vacation. He went fishing. He didn't caught any but he believes there is fish out there..."
Caveat Emptor, posted 7 Aug 2003 at 06:01 UTC by nymia »
Not sure exactly what the deal is with SCO demanding they be paid, but there is a law covering this area about buying or downloading stolen code.
Also, the saying Caveat Emptor might apply here where a user should do some homework first or have a knowledge of the item before using it.
It is definitely interesting how it will pan out and I'm all for seeing SCO lose the case whether it be civil or criminal.
I don't know if what they are doing is illegal, but it's certainly evil. I wrote my congressman, Peter Defazio, to let him know what I think both as a 'small businessman' (independant consultant), and as a taxpayer who would foot the bill if SCO were to have its way with government users of Linux. I'll probably send off a few more letters...
I found that this:
is a pretty good resource - it looks fairly accessible to non technical people.
A somewhat improved version of this article is now featured on the front page at Kuro5hin. Here's
the full text of the article.
If you do plan to copy this article, either to your own website or to publish at other sites that feature articles, it would be best to take the draft that I will maintain on my own website, as it will be the most up-to-date. I expect to make small improvements over time, for example to go into more detail about the "pump-and-dump" insider trading SCO's executives have engaged in. I'm pretty happy with the draft at Kuro5hin, however the markup inserted by Scoop is kind of ugly and wouldn't work well at most other sites. Use this version for your copies:
Thanks everyone for your help.
Well..., posted 8 Aug 2003 at 09:08 UTC by mibus »
"If your photograph appears in a magazine, does the magazine now own the copyrights to your photographs?"
Well... unless you sign a bit of paper that says the magazine _does_ own the rights. Which AFAICT is more akin to what SCO is claiming. (Though the whole derivative works thing is just stupid and ridiculous IMHO :-).
i find this essay shines some light on the case...
re: hacker, posted 12 Aug 2003 at 20:04 UTC by error27 »
SCO has repeatedly claimed that there are "hundreds of thousands of lines" of infringing code that they believe belongs to them.
Actually the quote was "hundreds of lines". Everyone laughed at them, and so the updated quote is "hundreds of files."
......grow a freaking brain, dude. You whine more than anyone on this site, about your "poor little me, I'm depressed". I laugh everytime I think about you offering me "advice" on how to program. You don't have a clue how to program, your website is nothing more than a "avoid consultants because I am the consultant you should hire" crap.
Your rant is off-topic here. But before you claim I can't program, have a look at my resume. I've been working as a professional developer for fifteen years, programming regularly for twenty-three years, and wrote my first program in 1976.
Don't miss the list of products I have shipped. It's actually not up-to-date; I have a number of products from the last couple of years I need to add to it.
I don't try to tell anyone they should avoid consultants because I'm the one they should hire. If I did, why would I have written a page like
Market Yourself - Tips for High Tech Consultants several years ago, or
How to Promote Your Business on the Internet more recently?
Why would I provide a page which gives
links to many of my direct competitors?.
As for claiming that I'm whining about being depressed, have you actually read
Living with Schizoaffective Disorder? Do I ask for your sympathy in the article? Yes, I wrote the article to fight the sort of stigma you display in your post, but asking people not to hate the mentally ill is quite different from asking for sympathy.
I'd like you to spend a moment contemplating who among us really needs to "grow a freaking brain".
Great Article, posted 18 Aug 2003 at 16:07 UTC by DeepNorth »
Notwithstanding the crazy gratuitous insult near the end of the comments here, I liked the article.
I personally think that the wider freedom oriented community should start to maintain a list of the individual people involved in threatening the commons. These people should be denied access to the commons, simple as that. As time goes on and services provided as a result of the commons increases people will start to think twice before they threaten the community. Hope the RIAA is paying attention too.
Sure, kill the entities, but let's make sure the people involved don't get a second chance to fire a shot.
Aside: Went to bytesplit's profile to certify, but could not find 'Troll' in the dropdown list. Is this a bug in Advogato?