[TUHS] SCO vs. IBM: NOVELL steps up to the plate

Greg 'groggy' Lehey grog at lemis.com
Fri May 30 09:50:27 AEST 2003

On Thursday, 29 May 2003 at  6:33:54 -0600, M. Warner Losh wrote:
> In message: <BAFBB8B1.118%rob at vetsystems.com>
>             Robert Tillyard <rob at vetsystems.com> writes:

>> I believe the legal action is over breach on contract with IBM and
>> not on copyright issues.
> All of SCO's statements to the court have been contractual.  Their
> statements to the press have been inflated to include things that
> aren't actually alledged in the court filings.

What's not very clear here is that there seem to be two issues.  The
IBM issue is, as you say, a contractual one which about which they
have been remarkably vague.  The suspension of Linux distribution is a
different matter.  From http://www.lemis.com/grog/sco.html:

   On Tuesday, 27 May 2003, I spoke to Kieran O'Shaughnessy, managing
   director of SCO Australia. He told me that SCO had entrusted three
   independent companies to compare the code of the UnixWare and Linux
   kernels. All three had come back pointing to significant
   occurrences of common code ("UnixWare code", as he put it) in both

   In view of the long and varied history of UNIX, I wondered whether
   the code in question might have been legally transferred from an
   older version of UNIX to Linux, so I asked him if he really meant
   UnixWare and not System V.4. He stated that it was specifically
   UnixWare 7.

>> But if it turns out the IBM is guilty of lifting SCO code and
>> putting it into Linux I think SCO does have the right to get a bit
>> upset about it, after all I wouldn't be to happy if I had to
>> compete with a product that's just about free and contains code
>> that I wrote.
> That's the rub.  Do they, in point of fact, actually have any code
> they own the Copyright to or the patent rights to?

Of course they have lots of code with their own copyright.  The
release of JFS was one example.  Probably the majority of AIX was
developed by IBM, not by AT&T.  It's rather similar to the issue with
4BSD in the early 90s: with a little bit of work you could probably
replace the entire AT&T code in AIX and have a system which did not
require an SCO license.

If you mean "is there IBM copyright code in Linux?", I think the
answer is again yes, but it's under the GPL or possibly IPL, IBM's
attempt at a compromise between proprietary licenses and the GPL.  I
think they've given up on the IPL now.

For what it's worth, I'd be astounded if SCO's claims were found to be

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