OSDL Releases Position Paper on SCO and Linux

Columbia University Law Professor Disputes Copyright and Trade Secret Claims;

Unsubstantiated Litigation Threats Not a Deterrence to Linux Customers

Jul 31, 2003, 01:00 ET from Open Source Development Lab

    BEAVERTON, Ore., July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The Open Source Development Lab
 (OSDL), a global consortium of leading technology companies dedicated to
 accelerating the adoption of Linux, today released a position paper raising
 serious questions about SCO Group's threatened litigation against end users of
 Linux.  The position paper, which casts doubt on SCO's position, was authored
 by one of the world's leading legal experts on copyright law as applied to
 software, Professor Eben Moglen of Columbia University.
     SCO Group has not yet publicly revealed the basis for any of its claims.
 OSDL is disseminating the position paper to address issues that may concern
 its members and industry Linux customers as a result of SCO Group's public
 threats.  OSDL believes Moglen's analysis will help its members, the Linux
 development community and Linux users better understand potential legal
     In his paper, Professor Moglen identifies some of the legal issues raised
 by the SCO Group's claims about Linux and users of the popular open source
 system.  He does not offer legal advice, but rather frames some of the key
 questions that companies and developers should ask their own counsel about
 Linux. Moglen, a faculty member at Columbia University's Law School, presented
 his paper on July 24 in New York at the first meeting of OSDL's customer
 advisory council, comprised of CIOs and CTOs from Fortune 100 corporations.
     "It is the consensus among the end users with whom we've discussed SCO's
 claims that they are not slowing their Linux implementation plans," said
 Stuart Cohen, OSDL CEO.  "As suggested by Moglen, absent clear, open and
 publicly available evidence that using Linux violates rights that SCO has not
 already conferred on users by freely distributing Linux over the course of
 several years, users see no need to purchase a license from SCO at present."
     Moglen makes three main points in his paper:
        1.  SCO has yet to file a lawsuit against end users, nor has it shared
            publicly any information on what software code might infringe its
            copyright or trade secret claims.  Absent specific factual and
            legal information from SCO, how can any individual or company
            threatened with a potential lawsuit respond appropriately?
        2.  Moglen points out that copyright law is not relevant to customers
            "using" Linux. In much the same way that readers can enjoy a book
            or a newspaper without a copyright license, so can users of
            software -- unless they have agreed to additional use restrictions
            in, for example, a shrink-wrapped box of software. Copyright law
            does restrict modification, copying and redistribution, however
            these activities are permitted under the GNU General Public License
            (GPL) for GNU/Linux and other free software.
        3.  Moglen says SCO itself continues to distribute Linux under the GPL.
            He argues that users should be free to modify, copy and
            redistribute Linux since users can go to the SCO even today and
            download Linux with a GPL license. Hence, users of Linux already
            have a license -- from SCO -- that allows them to do the things
            that SCO claims are infringing.
     "Failure to come forward with evidence of any infringement of SCO's legal
 rights is suspicious," Moglen says. "SCO's public announcement of a decision
 to pursue users, rather than the authors or distributors of allegedly
 infringing software, only increases doubts."
     To read the entire paper, please visit the OSDL Web site at www.osdl.org.
     Professor Moglen, a legal historian and antitrust expert who has written
 extensively on the Microsoft antitrust case, is recognized internationally as
 a leading authority on computers and free expression. He is a 2003 recipient
 of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award for Pioneering Freedom
 on the Electronic Frontier, and has served as the general counsel for the Free
 Software Foundation since 1993.
     About the Open Source Development Lab
     OSDL -- home to Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux -- is dedicated to
 accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux in the enterprise. Founded in
 2000 and supported by a global consortium of IT industry leaders, OSDL is a
 non-profit organization that provides state-of the-art computing and test
 facilities in the United States and Japan available to developers around the
 world. OSDL sponsors include Alcatel, Cisco, Computer Associates, Dell,
 Ericsson, Force Computers, Fujitsu, HP, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, Linuxcare,
 Miracle Linux Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric, MontaVista Software, NEC
 Corporation, Nokia, Red Hat, SuSE, TimeSys, Toshiba, Transmeta Corporation and
 VA Software. Visit OSDL on the Web at www.osdl.org.
     NOTE:  OSDL is a trademark of Open Source Development Labs, Inc. Linux is
 a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Third party marks and brands are the property
 of their respective holders.

SOURCE Open Source Development Lab