decoration decoration
Stories

GROKLAW
When you want to know more...
decoration
For layout only
Home
Archives
Site Map
Search
About Groklaw
Awards
Legal Research
Timelines
ApplevSamsung
ApplevSamsung p.2
ArchiveExplorer
Autozone
Bilski
Cases
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Contracts/Documents
Courts
DRM
Gordon v MS
GPL
Grokdoc
HTML How To
IPI v RH
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
Lodsys
MS Litigations
MSvB&N
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
ODF/OOXML
OOXML Appeals
OraclevGoogle
Patents
ProjectMonterey
Psystar
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v IBM
SCO v Novell
SCO:Soup2Nuts
SCOsource
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Transcripts
Unix Books
Your contributions keep Groklaw going.
To donate to Groklaw 2.0:

Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Contact PJ

Click here to email PJ. You won't find me on Facebook Donate Paypal


User Functions

Username:

Password:

Don't have an account yet? Sign up as a New User

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.


What's New

STORIES
No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


Sponsors

Hosting:
hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

Webmaster
SCO's Former VP Said The ABI Files Could Be Used in Linux Freely
Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:30 PM EST

SCO's own senior vice president of technology and developement, Opinder Bawa, since severed from the company, wrote a paper back in March 2003, "How to integrate Linux with Unix" for ComputerWorld. His bio for the article reads like this:

"Opinder Bawa is senior vice president of technology and development at SCO Group Inc. (formerly Caldera International Inc.), where he is responsible for integrating corporate vision and technology strategy."

He wrote about the now-infamous ABI files that SCO threatened to sue companies for using. He tells the world how to get the ABI files and indicates that they may be freely used, unlike the SCO shared libraries.

Here's the exact wording:

"Unix applications on Linux

"Because of their common roots, Unix applications port with relative ease to Linux. It's also possible to run Unix applications directly on a Linux platform without porting. This is accomplished using the linux-abi facility, which is included with most Linux distributions today. Linux-abi enables the Linux kernel to execute a range of x86 binary types. The Linux kernel that has linux-abi enabled will require loadable modules built for it. The linux-abi source can be downloaded from Sourceforge.net at http://linux-abi.sourceforge.net or www.pcunix.com/Linux/linuxabi.html. Unix binaries that don't use shared libraries may run without any further support, but for some executables, it's necessary to obtain shared runtime libraries from the Unix vendor. Many modern Unix vendors will offer these for use on the Linux operating system for a modest fee. Remember, always check to see if the code you are using is licensed. If it is, comply with the license."

If you go to the first link, here is what you find:

"The Linux abi is a patch to the linux kernel that allows a linux system to run foreign binaries. This was developed and written by Christoph Hellwig and Joerg Ahrens as a follow on to the iBCS/iBCS2 project written for the older 2.2.x kernel by Mike Jagdis."

Likely you recall that Christoph Hellwig was a Caldera employee. We've written about him before. If SCO were to sue anyone over the ABI files, I believe they could just wave this in front of the judge. If the senior vice president of a company, responsible for integrating corporate vision and technology strategy, tells you in a published article (and most companies require that employees run such articles past their supervisors prior to publication) that you may freely use ABI files, then I think you may take that as permission. No? Here is some info on the DMCA, if you are interested.

We've written about the ABI files from a technical and historical standpoint several times before, but this little paragraph is so simple and clear, any judge and any jury, no matter how technically challenged, can understand it. So there you are, everyone, the cherry on top. Yoo Hoo. Bank of America. Just in case some sharks that bumped into you and then seemed to swim away swing back around and you don't feel like handing over all your Linux boxes, as if any judge would order such a vicious thing.

Here is what SCO wrote to Lehman Brothers about the ABI files. Compare it with the above:

""No one may use our copyrighted code except as authorized by us.

". . . Certain copyrighted application binary interfaces ("ABI Code") have been copied verbatim from our copyrighted UNIX code base and contributed to Linux for distribution under the General Public License ("GPL") without proper authorization and without proper attribution. While some application programming interfaces ("API Code") have been made available through POSIX and other open standards, the UNIX ABI Code has only been made available under copyright restrictions. AT&T made these binary interfaces available in order to support application development to UNIX operating systems and to assist UNIX licensees in the development process. The UNIX ABIs were never intended or authorized for unrestricted use or distribution under the GPL in Linux.

".. . Use in Linux of any ABI Code or other UNIX Derived Files identified above constitutes a violation of the United States Copyright Act. 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 ("DMCA") 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. 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."

Donating to OSDL

I've gotten requests for information on how to donate to OSDL, so here is the info:

"The OSDL Linux Legal Defense Fund was created to defray legal expenses of Linux end users who may become involved in litigation with The SCO Group on issues that affect the Linux community and industry. The fund will also cover the legal expenses of Linus Torvalds and OSDL in connection with the pending SCO litigation.

This fund sends a clear message that OSDL, in cooperation with others throughout the Linux industry, will stand firm against legal threats levied by The SCO Group.

How can I contribute to the fund?

Contributions to the fund may be made by check or money order. To make a contribution, donors must first read the Donor Disclosure Statement.pdf, and indicate their agreement with its terms by printing, signing, and submitting the statement to OSDL along with their check. The statement may be submitted to OSDL by:

MAIL (along with your check or money order)
Open Source Development Labs, Inc.
ATTN: Linux Legal Defense Fund
12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 400
Beaverton, Oregon 97005
USA

FAX
(503)626.2436 Attention: Linux Legal Defense Fund

Please make your check or money order payable to: OSDL - Linux Legal Defense Fund."


  


SCO's Former VP Said The ABI Files Could Be Used in Linux Freely | 235 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
URLs and Updates Here
Authored by: PJ on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 04:39 PM EST
URLs and Updates in this thread please.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Errata (typos and corrections)
Authored by: grouch on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 04:43 PM EST
Please post corrections as replies to this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Touché
Authored by: IMANAL on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 04:45 PM EST
"If SCO were to sue anyone over the ABI files, I believe they could just
wave this in front of the judge."

Olé!

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ, This is getting boring.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 04:46 PM EST
You should give SCO a break.
Stop being so mean to them.
Every day it seems like you come up with some new reason to laugh at them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

He-heh... SCO's Case Has More Holes Than A Cheese Grater
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 04:48 PM EST
I wonder if Microsoft feels that they're getting their money's worth?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cannot find source files on SCO
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 04:52 PM EST
I was doing some research to see if SCO were distributing the disputed Linux
errno.h file under the GPL.

I downloaded a file: OSTools.pkg from
http://wdb1.sco.com/clbk_web/owa/dwn_customer

This package contains a number of programs bearing names of GNU programs and
even copies of the GNU GPL.

However, neither within the package nor in any other place on the site have I
been able to find the source code for these programs or any information pointing
to it.

Have I missed it somewhere?

[ Reply to This | # ]

ABI Confusion?
Authored by: hbo on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 04:59 PM EST
I think the term (Application Binary Interface - ABI) is being used to apply to two different things here. The linux-abi project allows the Linux kernel to run "foreign" binaries, including those from SCO. What the SCO group is making such a big deal over are the header files that define a portion of the Linux ABI. (The application binary interface of the Linux OS.) This claim is dubious for many reasons that have been presented here and elsewhere, but the fact that Caldera approved of linux-abi has no effect on the claim, despite the similarity in the names.

---
"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO's Former VP Said The ABI Files Could Be Used in Linux Freely
Authored by: prhodes on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 04:59 PM EST
"Oh what a tangled web we weave,
when at first we practice to deceive."   

            -William Shakespeare

How did he know? ;) -Phil

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO-rrections
Authored by: RedBarchetta on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:00 PM EST
SCO now has a web page that addresses "inaccurate" media stories. We all know how accurate SCO likes to be, at least when it's convenient for them. Here's a sample:

"AT&T Trips Up SCO"
Computerworld, February 16, 2004

Misstatement

SCO argued that it doesn't own just the Unix source code originally written by AT&T. SCO said it also owns all additions to Unix that were ever made by companies that licensed Unix source code -- including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and even Microsoft.

So since IBM developed a file system and added code for it to AIX, IBM's version of Unix, SCO argued that the code now belongs to SCO. And since IBM later donated that IBM-developed file-system code to Linux, it's in Linux without SCO's permission.

Fact

SCO has never claimed to own all additions to or versions of UNIX that were ever made by companies that licensed UNIX source code or that the IBM developed file system for AIX now belongs to SCO. SCO has publicly stated that while certain products and additions are owned by the respective UNIX licensee, SCO retained rights (as written in the UNIX software sub-licensing agreements) as to how these products are distributed or used, including confidentiality restrictions."



Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the last bolded statement a copyright claim? After all, they are claiming they retain rights as to the "distribution." Isn't copying and distributing a right given to the copyright holder under copyright law? I sense a contradiction.

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO's Former VP Said The ABI Files Could Be Used in Linux Freely
Authored by: RealProgrammer on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:04 PM EST
I just noticed that the date on the DMCA article linked to in the story is
February 17. What date did TSG decide not to use the DMCA, according to the
meta-data in their M$-Werd document? February 18.

Coincidence? Your call.

---
(I'm not a lawyer, but I know right from wrong)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Grok's is SOOO SLOW - Maybe it is a DOS by Pro-SCO People?
Authored by: thundr on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:09 PM EST
Grok's is SOOO SLOW recently. I'm guessing that it is a DOS attack by Pro-SCO
People? Unfortuntaly no pretty Netcraft graphs to prove it.

Hehehehehe... If Darl is able to say that the MyDoom virus was spread to attack
him by gun-totting pro-linux supporters, well.....

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT. Why is Daral so quite
Authored by: DBLR on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:19 PM EST
Over at USA Today and I quote from the last part of the story that
" Wells has asked both sides to limit what they say to the media,
and both IBM attorney David Marriott and SCO spokesman Blake Stowell
declined comment Thursday.

Now why did Judge Wells go and spoil some of our fun??

Charles

---
If your name is SCOG the Truth hurts..

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO's Former VP Said The ABI Files Could Be Used in Linux Freely
Authored by: Glenn on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:27 PM EST
This is off topic, but isn't this the day that SCOG is supposed to respond to
Novell's motion to dismiss? Has anyone heard anything? Frank, are you there?

Glenn

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Shhhhshshsh - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:57 PM EST
Anyone have a copy of the original SCOForum presentation or the CDXPO presentation?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:50 PM EST
It seems to me that one of these had a slide the specifically stated that the
ABI files were okay to use. I think the SCOForum presentation has been edited
on SCO's site (it no longer has the BPF code example), and I can't find the
CDXPO video archived anywhere.

Does this ring a bell to anyone?

[ Reply to This | # ]

In the not so distant future....
Authored by: javajedi on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 05:51 PM EST
A shadowy figure stands on the street corner in Lindon Utah, he has a remarkable resemblance to a certain CEO of a local company...

Shadowy figure (We will call him DM from here on out): Psssst hey buddy, wanna bye a license: (opens his trenchcoat)

Passerby: A license for what?

DM: I can't tell you exactly but it contains VALUABLE IP, truuusssst me.

Passerby: How much?

DM: How much you got?

Passerby: (Reaches in his pocket...) I have no cash can I write you a check? I have 12 dollars and 15 cents in my account.

DM: That will do.

Passerby: Who do I make the check out to?

DM: Computerized Attorneys Suing Humanity. But you can just abreviate and make it out to C.A.S.H.

---
The Matrix is real... but i'm only visiting...

[ Reply to This | # ]

The ABI Files and the AutoZone Complaint
Authored by: mikeca on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 06:18 PM EST
I noticed that the AutoZone complaint does not mention the Linux ABIs. This is what the AutoZone complaint says:
19. The Copyrighted Materials include protected expression of code, structure, sequence and/or organization in many categories of UNIX System V functionality, including but not limited to the following: System V static shared libraries; System V dynamic shared libraries; System V inter-process communication mechanisms including semaphores, message queues, and shared memory; enhanced reliable signal processing; System V file system switch interface; virtual file system capabilities; process scheduling classes, including real time support; asynchronous input/output; file system quotas; support for Lightweight Processes (kernel threads); user level threads; and loadable kernel modules.
I thought much of this was covered by the POSIX standard. Perhaps this is another way of describing the Linux ABI in a way intended to hide that fact that SCO is claiming a copyright on a bunch of binary numbers assigned identifiers that are in the public domain (the POSIX standard).

[ Reply to This | # ]

This explains .....
Authored by: whoever57 on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 06:21 PM EST
why Opinder Bawa left SCO during 2Q 2003: he was fired for giving away SCO's
"crown jewels"!

He also exercised and immediately sold 100% of his vested options, which showed
how little faith he had in the success of the lawsuit.

---
-----
For a few laughs, see "Simon's Comic Online Source" at
http://scosource.com/index.html

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO's Former VP Said The ABI Files Could Be Used in Linux Freely
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 06:28 PM EST
He is an idiot, or a zealot or het does it because het is payed for it. But in
any reason it does say something about what kind of person he is.
I just wonder why that article is so over de top. If it was more subtile with
more 'facts' and with more truths it would give it more credebility.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Site trafiic and
Authored by: RevSmiley on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 06:53 PM EST
The amount of off topic and TROLL/astroturfing posts are increasing. The increasing load this week made the site unaccessable for me a few times during the week. This is good, and bad.

It means PJ and the grokers are doing a good job getting to the facts through all the smoke some parties to this legal dispute are putting in the air.

When IBM gets Hielweig(sp?) on the witness stand SCOX goose is cooked. The mentioned VP will also be the basting sauce.

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ, I don't quite see where he says that...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 08:18 PM EST
I see where he says that shared libraries require licensing arrangements. I see where it is implied through omission that using the linux-abi facility does not require any licensing arrangements, although that is partially offset by the disclaimer at the end placing the onus to check on the reader.

What I fail to see is where Opinder Bawa directly says that using the linux-abi facility does not require a license.

Sorry, but can you explain where it's so clear? Disassembling that paragraph by sentence:

Because of their common roots, Unix applications port with relative ease to Linux. It's also possible to run Unix applications directly on a Linux platform without porting.
Nothing so far about licensing, or wherer linux-abi is a commercial product or not...
This is accomplished using the linux-abi facility, which is included with most Linux distributions today.
Knowing what I know about Linux distributions, this implies that it's freely distributable, or at least free as in beer, but the words don't constitute any kind of promise to that effect.
Linux-abi enables the Linux kernel to execute a range of x86 binary types. The Linux kernel that has linux-abi enabled will require loadable modules built for it.
Nothing here about licensing.
The linux-abi source can be downloaded from Sourceforge.net at http://linux-abi.sourceforge.net or www.pcunix.com/Linux/linuxabi.h tml.
This certainly strongly implies that it's freely distributable, and the S ourceForge terms require it of projects hosted there, but I don't see Opinder saying so.
Unix binaries that don't use shared libraries may run without any further support, but for some executables, it's necessary to obtain shared runtime libraries from the Unix vendor.
This says that you often don't need any any additional components, but I don't see a claim that linux-abi is freely distributable.
Many modern Unix vendors will offer these for use on the Linux operating system for a modest fee.
Fine, but what about the base system?
Remember, always check to see if the code you are using is licensed. If it is, comply with the license.
This general statement somewhat weakens any implications that something is not licensed.

If I were to show this to a judge, what part do I underline in red pen?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Perhaps Microsoft subsidized EV1Servers.net fee
Authored by: Larry Blunk on Friday, March 05 2004 @ 08:42 PM EST
Perhaps Microsoft funneled money to SCO as part of EV1Servers.net licensee
fee. Microsoft records it as a consideration for EV1Servers.net participation
the Windows 2003 deployment case study and SCO records it as part of the payment
for EV1Servers.net license. Possibly without even EV1Servers.net knowledge.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ARE WE PLAYING CANOLOPY?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 06 2004 @ 03:49 AM EST
This looks like a get out jail free card for AutoZone, So much for Darl's
latest theory?

I say KUDOS for the person who wrote this, Some EXCELLENT WORK !!!!

SCO: 0 -vs- Linus Community: 1, Sure to Win 4
Counter Suits:AstronomicaL

legal insanity

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
Comments are owned by the individual posters.

PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )