It's clear that SCO hopes people will pay up fast before they catch on to the reality of the situation (that SCO doesn't seem to have a leg to stand on having messed up every step along the way had they been planning to try to enforce copyright all along). I read the SCO press release and couldn't stop laughing. Sadly, many managers will probably pay out of ignorance, get in trouble with GPL licensing issues, and the whole thing will turn into a convoluted and court-settled mess.
It would be nice if no one paid SCO a penny, daring them to go to court instead. The sooner this gets to court, the sooner the judge can laugh them out of court and the ignorant managers can worry about Windows security updates or something.
Sadly, I don't agree completely. I take their postion seriously, as far as copyright is concerned, not as far as licensing.
They couldn't do copyright before, first because it wasn't clear if they had copyright and then because they hadn't registered it. (They could have claimed infringement anyway, but they would have been limited to an injunction, not money damages.) *If* their copyright is valid, and *if* there is actually infringing code, then they do have a leg to stand on. Those are two big ifs, but it's not as weak a position as I wish it were.
I thought they had essentially given up the right to copyright by their past actions, and that this case would have to settle on a contract term, not copyright term. Furture, doesn't the GPL cover their recent actions since they distributed their own (now copyrighted) code along with the GPL code even after they found out that their code was included? I mean, they even had an employee doing this as part of his job.
So I guess I'm a bit lost on how this can be taken seriously. They can certainly copyright their own code, but once they voluntarily and knowingly include the code in GPL code, on what ground can they then complain? I realize they are pretending this isn't the way it was, but the trail is there for all to see.
Yes, they can intimidate the ignorant, and make financial mischief for those in the know who don't want to bother taking them to court. I guess that's annoying enough. Hopefully someone with bucks will take them to court and get this nonsense settled before too many people pay up just to get them off their backs.
If someone uses your code in another project without getting your permission (as copyright owner) it is clear that the one who knowingly copied your code without permission is wrong. Someone who, unknowingly of the infringement that took place, receives and uses the code can claim innocence.
I am seriously wondering whether SCO's claim "there's copied UNIX code in Linux" by itself is enough to provide the knowledge of infringement, especially when the analists that were allowed to review the code under NDA could only tell "there were similarities" and that they were unable to determine the direction of copying.
It is common (at least in Europe) to give someone who unknowingly infringes your copyright (I am thinking Linus here) the possibility to repair the infringement; SCO seems to prefer not to do so... Why? There also is the remark that "Several Unix companies contributed to Linux"; does that include Caldera, sorry SCO, SCO never denied that!
I still have the impression that SCO is deliberately muddying the waters: it is clear that they have dirty hands by distributing and contributing to Linux. They are unwilling to sustantiate their claims, which weakens their position. Are they afraid to be found guilty of copyright or patent infringement themselves?
A case about copyright infringement against an "allegedly unpublished" document is still running before the Dutch supreme court (Scientology vs. Karin Spaink and 22 Internet Providers). My provider has a page in dutch [ http://www.xs4all.nl/nieuws/overzicht/scientology3.html ] about the major events in the case (with links to the verdicts). One of the conclusions of the judge was that not being able to take knowledge of the original text was an excuse for the original copyright infringement and that the immediate changes to the webpages after seeing the text were enough to avoid liability in this case.
You raise some interesting points, MathFox. I took a look at one or two of the verdicts, and did my best (using computer translation), and what I see is that it was a case involving ISPs. Does your country make special allowances for ISPs, as US law does? If so, I would be reluctant to draw too many conclusions from this one case.
But your deeper point is even more interesting: how does SCO plan on policing the world, where there are so many different laws? Does your country have a DMCA equivalent, for example? More and more countries have been passing such, which would make incidents like the SCO case much more serious, precisely because of the international enforcement capability. If you, or anyone in a country without the DMCA or a clone, could point me to your copyright law, I would be very interested, especially in a "repair the infringement" allowance clause.
Here is the paragraph I am wondering about:
"When there is however talk of an obviously unlawful operation where the internet provider has knowledge of then the provider must act. The pronouncement is with that in line with the bill computer crime II that soon to the House of Commons goes. "The pronouncement discusses also possible hyperlinks to for example material that copyright a violation makes. According to the pronouncement the provider which has had appear of it against these hyperlinks. XS4ALL thinks that the court goes too far."
What is the computer crime bill it makes reference to?
If you want to read what Karin has to say about the case go to her Scientology litigation kit [ http://www.xs4all.nl/~kspaink/cos/idx_coskit.html ]. You'll find english translations of the verdicts and links to seveal other of the court documents.
The case was against 22 ISP's and one maintainer of a homepage (Karin). ISP's have some special rights under the current Dutch telecommuncations act, that will have to be changed due to EU regulations. Our Copyright law "Auteurswet 1912" has some DRM-circumvention clauses (and an explicit allowance for reverse engineering for interoperability). I don't think that the "Wetsvoorstel Computercriminaliteit" has any relevance for the SCO-Linux-IBM case.
I am taking a look at the "Auteurswet 1912" (http://wetten.overheid.nl/) now; but there is no explicit clause that states that you can "repair copyright infringement". What is important that you can only get criminally procecuted for "opzettelijk" (intentional) infringement or when you should have "een redelijk vermoeden" (reasonable notion) of infringement (Art. 31, 31a and 32). The judge concluded that the copyright owner in this case didn't provide a reasonable notion of infringement by merely claiming that a webpage was sufficently similar to a secret document.
I'll come back later with a scan of the civil aspects of copyrights in the Netherlands.
Civil law aspects of Copyrights in the Netherlands:
The copyright owner can request damages plus illegal profits aquired bij the infringer (Art. 27, 27a). The copyright owner can also claim ownership of the illegal copies and the equipment made to use them, he may also request destuction of the goods (Art. 28). Copies that are in the possession of end-users that didn't illegaly copy them can not be repossessed (Art. 29).
In the chapter about computer programs (H. VI) there is Article 45j. It states that: Unless agreed otherwise, it is no infringement when the legimate owner of a computer program is making copies of the work when that's part of the intended operation of the work. Copying as part of the loading of the work can not be banned in a contract.
Reading all this I wonder how SCO will word its license and whether they can realy ask damages from or force run-time licenses upon Dutch Linux users. Even if they appear to have the (non-GPL) copyrights on some of the kernel code.
Copyright 2003 http://radio.weblogs.com/0120124/