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Apparently SCO owns UNIX again


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#1 livinded

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 11:47 AM

http://www.networkwo...ed.html?hpg1=bn

Now that traditional UNIX is basically no long used except in legacy systems, does anyone still actually care?

#2 Colonel Panic

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 03:37 AM

SCO doesn't own UNIX, at least not yet. The actual "ownership" and copyright to UNIX is a very complicated issue. All this court decision did was "reverse material aspects" of the earlier verdict from 2007 that found Novell to be the rightful copyright owner. Now there's going to be yet another trial case to determine whether SCO does in fact own the copyright.

I don't think anybody seriously gives a shit about System V UNIX, UnixWare or any of SCO's other crappy, outdated products.

But a company like SCO, which has been in bankruptcy for over 2 years, has virtually no market share and appears to exist these days only for the purpose of suing other companies, might well gain legal ownership of the original System V UNIX code. In other words: they might gain a legal "leg to stand on" and cause more trouble for OSS creators and vendors.

For years, SCO has been bitching that Linux infringes on a copyright for the original UNIX code that it assumes it holds. They have sued companies like IBM and Novell which produce Linux-based software and distribute Linux as an OEM OS. They have disseminated propaganda to Linux users, accusing them of copyright infringement and alleging they could be liable for damages simply by running Linux. They have sued their own (former) customers who switched from using their products to using Linux. SCO is also known to have received financial backing from other, far more powerful interests whose goal is to ruin the open source software movement by any means possible. At this point, SCO clearly has nothing to lose, and Microsoft doesn't have to dirty their hands or risk hurting their own public image by attacking open source developers in court. Microsoft can just sit back and bash the OSS movement in the press, allege IP infringements, negotiate cross-licensing agreements and provide financial support to companies like SCO to file anti-OSS suits.

This may not be a potent threat to the very existence of Linux, but it could definitely harm Linux in the business market and lead to some very bad precedents regarding OSS and software copyright/patents in general.


BTW, I'm not the one who voted down your post. It's an interesting bit of news on a case I haven't really followed in awhile. Thanks for posting it.

Edited by Colonel Panic, 28 August 2009 - 06:25 AM.


#3 Ohm

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 01:14 PM

I don't think anyone is paying attention to SCO. From the beginning of this whole mess, they were seen as a joke. No one uses their products anymore, they're not generating income, so what do they do? Sue everyone, of course. Not only that, but they were accepting payments for a promise not to sue. If that's not a protection racket, I don't know what is. But instead of some thug threatening to bust up your store, it's some nerdy kid. The sensible people just laughed and didn't get involved. And remember this "evidence" they came out with after years of court wrangling? It was errno.h. In case you don't know, errno.h is a list of C preprocessor macros that assign numbers to error codes like ENOMEM.

So they're claiming, yet again, to own UNIX. Even if they did, what can they do about it? That's like saying you have a patent on the snap button. Way too late to do anything about it now.

#4 chown

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:58 AM

Nope.

#5 baby-Hackribs

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 05:39 PM

From my understanding of IP law (IANAL), there's a point where something has been in the public domain long enough that the idea of turning it back over to corporate holding and alleged patent holders is flat-out ridiculous. The Linux source has been freely available since the early '90s, and if what Ohm says is correct (that the file of contention was errno.h)it should be obvious that there's going to be naming overlap to effectively describe the errors the OS has to handle on a day to day basis... it's like patenting the dictionary and suing authors of books.

Am I wrong?

#6 army_of_one

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 12:56 PM

You've summarized the issues nicely, Panic. As I see it, the SCO case still matters to those affected by it. There are two rumors constantly floating around: SCO's lawsuits are seen as a joke, and SCO doesn't actually sell products and services anymore. Both of these rumors are false. For one, the very protection racket that Ohm mentioned is proof that many take them seriously. What they are trying to do is create a PR campaign that convinces some businesses they own UNIX. Then, they just threaten as many as possible, hoping those businesses are among them and they squeeze them for cash. It's quite insidious and could have worked, assuming they won a court case or two. (lol)

The other issue is products and services. They actually do have income sources from sales of their products and services. One is a retail inventory management system. McDonalds was their original success story, using it at all their chains. They made a few sales of UnixWare for important business systems. Finally, I know Kroger Inc. retail chain uses SCO's software stack to manage all their backend inventory operations. In short, SCO still matters because there are a lot of legacy systems out there based on SCO. These systems are also usually in big companies with big pockets that sue happy pricks like SCO love to pickpocket. I'm sure many want to ditch SCO but apparently it would cost them more to switch over than just pay the fees and stay. I wonder if the lawsuit issue factored into that cost?

So my answer is "Yes, it does matter." Just not to me... cuz as far as legacy operating systems go, everyone knows VMS is the shit. ;)

SCO doesn't own UNIX, at least not yet. The actual "ownership" and copyright to UNIX is a very complicated issue. All this court decision did was "reverse material aspects" of the earlier verdict from 2007 that found Novell to be the rightful copyright owner. Now there's going to be yet another trial case to determine whether SCO does in fact own the copyright.

I don't think anybody seriously gives a shit about System V UNIX, UnixWare or any of SCO's other crappy, outdated products.

But a company like SCO, which has been in bankruptcy for over 2 years, has virtually no market share and appears to exist these days only for the purpose of suing other companies, might well gain legal ownership of the original System V UNIX code. In other words: they might gain a legal "leg to stand on" and cause more trouble for OSS creators and vendors.

For years, SCO has been bitching that Linux infringes on a copyright for the original UNIX code that it assumes it holds. They have sued companies like IBM and Novell which produce Linux-based software and distribute Linux as an OEM OS. They have disseminated propaganda to Linux users, accusing them of copyright infringement and alleging they could be liable for damages simply by running Linux. They have sued their own (former) customers who switched from using their products to using Linux. SCO is also known to have received financial backing from other, far more powerful interests whose goal is to ruin the open source software movement by any means possible. At this point, SCO clearly has nothing to lose, and Microsoft doesn't have to dirty their hands or risk hurting their own public image by attacking open source developers in court. Microsoft can just sit back and bash the OSS movement in the press, allege IP infringements, negotiate cross-licensing agreements and provide financial support to companies like SCO to file anti-OSS suits.

This may not be a potent threat to the very existence of Linux, but it could definitely harm Linux in the business market and lead to some very bad precedents regarding OSS and software copyright/patents in general.


BTW, I'm not the one who voted down your post. It's an interesting bit of news on a case I haven't really followed in awhile. Thanks for posting it.






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