OSDL Releases Position Paper on SCO Lawsuit with Novell

Columbia University law professor says Linux users will ignore SCO legal threats until Novell lawsuit is resolved

BEAVERTON, OR - February 10, 2004 - The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a global consortium dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Linux, today published a position paper that indicates Linux customers will likely ignore SCO Group's legal threats until a court decision is rendered in the litigation brought by SCO Group against Novell on copyright ownership.

The paper's author, Professor Eben Moglen of Columbia University, is regarded as one of the world's leading experts on copyright law as applied to software. OSDL is disseminating the position paper to address issues of concern to its members and Linux industry customers as a result of SCO Group's ongoing litigation threat to sue end-users.

OSDL believes Professor Moglen's paper will help its members, the Linux development community and Linux end-users better understand legal issues and business risks associated with using Linux.

In his paper, available on the OSDL Web site, Professor Moglen makes two main points:

  1. SCO Group admits, by suing Novell, that its claim to exclusive ownership of the Unix copyright is in doubt. Moglen argues that no judge would hold an end-user liable for intentionally infringing SCO Group's rights when SCO Group itself has cast doubt on what it owns. As a result, Linux customers have little incentive to purchase a license from SCO Group and instead will wait for a final decision on who owns the copyrights as between SCO Group and Novell.
  2. Even once the litigation is resolved, and regardless of who prevails, customers will still have the right to use the Linux code in question without purchasing a license from either SCO Group or Novell. Moglen points out that both SCO Group and Novell (who recently purchased SuSE Linux, a distributor of Linux) have distributed the Linux code under the GPL. Since the GPL allows licensees to use, modify, copy and distribute the Linux code freely, the results of the litigation will have no affect on those rights, and customers will have no obligation to purchase another license from either SCO Group or Novell to ensure those rights.

"We see Linux deployments continuing around the world and many prudent customers are choosing to ignore SCO's legal threats until the courts rule, particularly given SCO's admitted uncertainty about its own rights," said Stuart Cohen, OSDL CEO. "We believe Professor Moglen's paper gives Linux customers, developers and others added peace of mind about the choices they make about Linux."

To read the entire paper, please click on Now They Own It, Now They Don't: SCO Sues Novell to Stay Afloat.pdf [ http://www.osdl.org/docs/osdl_eben_moglen_third_statement.pdf ].

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.

As part of its mission to provide peace of mind to Linux users, OSDL in January 2004 announced a defense fund that will defray legal expenses of Linux users involved in litigation with The SCO Group on issues that affect the Linux community and industry. OSDL aims to raise $10 million for this defense fund and is accepting donations from individuals, organizations and companies.

About Open Source Development Labs (OSDL)

OSDL - home to Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux - is dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux. Founded in 2000 and supported by a global consortium of Linux customers and IT industry leaders, OSDL is a non-profit organization that provides Linux expertise and computing and test facilities in the United States and Japan available to developers around the world. OSDL members include Alcatel, Beijing Co-Create Open Source Software Company, Cisco, Computer Associates, Dell, Ericsson, Force Computers, Fujitsu, HP, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, Linuxcare, Miracle Linux Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric, MontaVista Software, NEC Corporation, NEC Soft, Network Appliance, Nokia, Novell, NTT, NTT DATA INTELLILINK, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, SUSE LINUX, TimeSys, Toshiba Solutions, Transmeta Corporation, Trolltech, Turbolinux, Ulticom, Unilever , VA Software and Wind River Systems. Visit OSDL on the Web at http://www.osdl.org/.

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.