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02/08/2004 Archived Entry: "SCO and clueless media"

More from the illiterate press corps: If you've searched "SCO Linux" news items in the last day or so, you've probably seen headlines like "SCO Ups Ante Against IBM with Copyright Claim". Which sounds like Linux is in trouble, right?.

Wrong. The SCO claim says nothing about Linux. They only claim that IBM has distributed (and thus copied) the commercial AIX operating system after SCO terminated their license to do so. But you wouldn't learn that from the headlines, or indeed from most of the news coverage. It's more sensational to let the headlines imply a Linux copyright infringement.

Okay, I admit it's possible that stupidity, not sensationalism, is the cause here. A significant fraction of the media, like many stock analysts, seem to have the depth of a Petri dish when they report on SCO vs. Linux. Certainly these dolts are desperately in need of a clue; they also seem to think that SCO is suing Novell for copyright violations. Wrong -- SCO is suing Novell for "slander of title" because Novell also claims to own the copyrights to Unix...quite a different issue.

(Incidentally, Both IBM and Novell dispute SCO's right to terminate IBM's AIX license. Good luck finding that in most media coverage, too.)

In the words of The Inquirer, "Why does the collective press, technical and financial, seem oblivious to anything other than paraphrasing the verbals coming from SCO?"

We're almost a year into this legal fracas now, and to date SCO has laid no charges of copyright infringment against any Linux distributor or user, and provided no evidence of any proprietary code improperly contributed to the Linux kernel. Zip. Zero. Nada. The most they've been able to claim is that IBM contributed some IBM-authored and IBM-copyrighted code to the Linux kernel, and that IBM's contract with SCO forbade that. So there may be a contract dispute between IBM and SCO, but the provenance of the code is not in question...and no Linux distributors/users are liable.

My friend Steve C. sent me a link to another web site tracking the legal aspects of this case: LamLaw, from the law office of Lewis A. Mettler, Esq. He generally links to Groklaw for the facts, but his analysis is usually interesting and sometimes quite entertaining. (If you think I don't like Microsoft, you should read him.)

- brad

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