Eben Moglen, general counsel, Free Software Foundation

December 12, 2003

In 1992, Eben Moglen "signed on for the duration of the revolution" as the unpaid general council of Richard Stallman's Free Software Foundation. Now we hear his perspectives on the SCO Group's litigation against IBM.

What's SCO CEO Darl McBride's real motivation? Eben suggests, "SCO's job here was to raise its stock price and merely having a contract and trade secret lawsuit against IBM was not likely to raise its stock price much." Hence SCO's demands that Linux users pay SCO a license fee.

But is SCO caught in a Catch-22? By demanding that others now accept additional license terms, are they violating the GPL license under which they themselves distributed Linux? "How can you maintain a trade secret lawsuit...if you yourself are giving away to everybody under a license that says they can freely copy, modify and distribute it, the very same thing you are claiming is a secret?"

Listen in to hear what Eben thinks about the future of infringement indemnification for open-source software such as is being offered by Hewlett Packard. And what about that $10,000,000 "license fee" from Microsoft? "Microsoft whatever else may be its interest in this situation has made perfectly clear that it dislikes the GPL."

In this fascinating IT Conversation, we also speculate on the involvement of SCO's counsel, David Boies, who became famous for arguing Bush v. Gore in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as representing the U.S. against Microsoft. Boies previously represented IBM, and Eben suggests, "He got into SCO because it was an opportunity for him to go up against the client and the firm from which he began his career." But has Boies become disillusioned with the SCO case? "He has not made a public appearance. He has not argued in court on behalf of the client. He has not signed any papers." (And don't miss how Eben believes Boies managed to lose the U.S. presidential election for Al Gore.)

Copyright 2003