SCO Sends DMCA Notices

by Pamela Jones

December 22 2003

SCO tells us they have sent out DMCA notication letters but to whom and about what they aren't yet saying. They put out a press release [ ] describing the letters they have sent out to certain users of Linux. It's all very vague, as usual. They refer to DMCA Section 1202 which you can read here [ ].

There is no specific identification of what code they are talking about and no indication who got the letter, but here is what we know so far. Their press release, after describing the unpleasant letters they have also sent to licensees (who I'm sure are delighted to be in a business relationship with SCO this morning) says this about the DMCA letters:
"DMCA Notification Letter

"SCO has commenced providing notification to selected Fortune 1000 Linux end users outlining additional violations of SCO's copyrights contained in Linux. Certain copyrighted application binary interfaces have been copied verbatim from the UNIX System V code base and contributed to Linux without proper authorization and without copyright attribution. Any part of any Linux file that includes the copyrighted binary interface code must be removed. This ABI code was part of a 1994 settlement agreement involving the University of California at Berkeley and Berkeley Systems Development, Inc., (BSDI).

"The letter states: 'Distribution of the copyrighted ABI code, or binary code compiled using the ABI code, with copyright management information deleted or altered, violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act codified by Congress at 17 U.S.C. Section 1202. DMCA liability extends to those who have reasonable grounds to know that a distribution (or re-distribution as required by the GPL) of the altered code or copyright information will induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement of any right under the DMCA.'

"The letter also states, 'In addition, neither SCO nor any predecessor in interest has ever placed an affirmative notice in Linux that the copyrighted code in question could be used or distributed under the GPL. As a result, any distribution of Linux by a software vendor or a re-distribution of Linux by an end user that contains any of the identified UNIX code violates SCO's rights under the DMCA, insofar as the distributor knows of these violations.'"

Unless I am missing something, this is another threat, not the real thing. The NY Times reports [ ] that the letter includes this:

"The letters include an olive branch as well as a threat. 'Once you have reviewed our position,' the Linux letter said, 'we will be happy to further discuss your options and work with you to remedy this problem.'"

Nothing the SCO Group does is ever normal in my experience. You send take down notices to ISPs. So what is this exactly? A notice that the recipient might get sued for copyright violations someday? But SCO is not, at this point in time, suing anyone. This couldn't have anything to do with their 4th quarter financial report scheduled for this morning, could it? Maybe they would like a lot of questions about the letter instead?

08:41 AM EST

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