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The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 02:36 PM EDT

I came across a screenshot I did in December of 2004 just now, and I thought you might like to see it, particularly because the link to the SCOsource licence for Linux announcement in a really early Groklaw article doesn't work any more.

Just what was it that SCO offered to sell people, anyway? Was it a license for Linux or was it not? At the time, that is what they called it, and that's what the media recorded, as you can see from this article by Robert McMillan back on September 3, 2003. Even better, Jonathan Corbet at LWN reminds me that LWN ran the complete text in August of 2003. Here you go.

Nowadays, as per the SCO Second Amended Complaint in SCO v. Novell, you'd be hard pressed to know it had much to do with Linux at all. But feast your eyes on this screenshot, my friends, for SCO's offering of:

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux.

Ta da!

And here's the date I snapped it, and the only change I made is I altered it to be a jpg, so I could make it narrower, and of course, I still have the original:

So, there we are. A SCO Intellectual Property License (whatever they mean by "intellectual property") for Linux. Not for Unix. For Linux. That's what the man said.

By the way, I think we know now what they meant by "IP" in that context. They probably meant methods and concepts, as opposed to actual code, doncha think? Anyway, that's what I think. A girl certainly has to work mighty hard to keep all the history straight.


The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux | 346 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off-topic here, please
Authored by: overshoot on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 02:42 PM EDT
Instructions provided; please preview your post.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here, please
Authored by: overshoot on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 02:44 PM EDT
Assuming, of course, the unlikely.

[ Reply to This | # ]

20:20 Hindsight ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 02:45 PM EDT
With hindsight, it would have been VERY useful for someone to have done a daily
crawl of the SCO site, signed it with a PGP key and deposited it with a public
notary. I'd be susrprised if the IBM team havent been taking dailing dumps[sic]
of the site and stroing them away from the very first day the litigation began.

Whatever, stuff like this is going to keep popping up and slapping SCO up the
head, its going to be fun to watch over the next few months as the circus plays
out the final acts. This is no ordinary circus we will be watching though ... it
looks like someone has tossed the clowns into the lions cage ;)


[ Reply to This | # ]

Licensing methods and concepts
Authored by: overshoot on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 02:48 PM EDT
Well, it would certainly explain SCOX' damage theory if part of SCOX' "control rights" to IBM's inventions included being able to license them to third parties.

Although, come to think of it:

If IBM can't disclose them to third parties without SCOX' permission and SCOX can charge third parties for using them, what is the difference between what SCOX is claiming and "ownership?"

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: BsAtHome on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 02:49 PM EDT
But were you actually able to buy such a license? Requests have failed as
reported here on Groklaw and only some corporate entities were "sold"
some licenses. And maybe only sold with PR value in mind, which backfired

SCOop of the day

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nice timing, PJ ...
Authored by: Jude on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 02:54 PM EDT
... right after SCO comes out and admits their claims in SCO v IBM are not based
on ownership of the disputed IP.

Kinda makes one wonder whose stuff they were trying to charge people for using.
I'll bet I would face criminal fraud charges if I tried to collect money from
people for letting them use something I didn't own.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Much ado about nothing, PJ
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 03:10 PM EDT
The SCO IP License for Linux has always been and claimed to be about offering a
proper SCO UNIX IP License for Linux users and is one element of the SCOSource
SCO has always been pretty straightforward and consistent about that.
No Tada as if you discovered something new is necessary there, PJ.

[ Reply to This | # ]

They STILL have the page...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 03:15 PM EDT
Quick before it disapeers... get some print screens of what they have now ;-) SCO's site

[ Reply to This | # ]

"unauthorized derivative work"
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 03:54 PM EDT
The language in the screenshot PJ posted "unauthorized derivative
work" sounds very much like a claim of copyright infringement with there
being actual code copied from something that SCO holds the copyright on into
Linux. Legal speech may be fuzzy, but that particular phrasing sounds very like
it means copyright infringment and a claim of actual copying of code.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Software Piracy
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 03:58 PM EDT
Just got to thinking about this. Even supposing SCO had a
contract that required IBM to keep Unix methods and
concepts (whatever that is) secret, does that:

a) Allow SCO to breach that secrecy by selling those
methods and concepts in Linux? Linux is open source and
publically viewable after all, so whatever is in Linux is
viewable by all.

b) Allow SCO to sell software copyrighted by others
(Linux) in breach of the copyright owner's license and
keep the proceeds? Think what would happen if I decided
to sell a 10 user license of MS Windows that allows users
who own Windows to make 9 extra copies and install those
on bare PCs for a payment to me of $100. It is in breach
of the Microsoft's copyright and EULA conditions of
course, but so is SCO's sale of a proprietary license for
Linux. It is exactly the same thing - I am changing the
copyright owners licensing terms for a fee, without the
permission of the copyright owner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Remember this?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 04:00 PM EDT
From SCOG's Investor Relations page.
Dated "LINDON, Utah, Aug 11, 2003"
"We've had more than 300 companies in the first four business days of this
program contact SCO to inquire about SCO's Intellectual Property License for
Linux," said Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager,
SCOsource, SCO's software licensing division. "This Fortune 500 company
recognizes the importance of paying for SCO's intellectual property that is
found in Linux and can now run Linux in their environment under a legitimate
license from SCO."

At that time I worried that they were in the right!!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interesting comments after the licence text.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 04:13 PM EDT
A blast from the past. Link

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: gbl on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 05:15 PM EDT
TSC advertises, even now, a license for Linux (see for example here). This licence appears to have sold NOT ONE copy to an individual, despite the efforts of a number of people to buy one under any terms.

How is TSG going to explain this in court? The public statements are unambigious, yet despite extended efforts by a few people, NOT ONE license has been sold to an individual.

If we are to believe TSG they had every right to sell such licenses, but when faced with eager customers they refused to sell.

When a company acts to minimise legal exposure rather than maximise profits you have to wonder about their legal position.

If you love some code, set it free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: jws on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 05:38 PM EDT
I noted that screen shot version of the IP page mentions that people with the
2.4 kernel are covered. That is also effectivly a date as there were a lot of
people on 2.2 kernels, not to mention all the way back to Linus' debates with
Tannenbaum and then writing the first kernel.

So what about all that previous effort? Not covered? Not infringing? The
current page that another comment person found whic is about IP omits that, so
maybe SCO noticed that the 2.4 reference dated them.

I read the license text that Corbet captured, and it mentions Linux in this
sentence which is the most important about Linux:

2.3 ... "SCO grants Company the right to use all, or portions of, the SCO
Product only as necessary to use the Linux Operating System on each Linux System
for which the appropriate CPUs have been licensed from SCO." ...

It excludes recieving any source or object, but simply says that the agreement
means that SCO will not consider "Company" to be in violation of SCO's
"Intellectual property ownership or rights"

I don't see that that says they still won't sue you. There is a requirement
that the "Company" operate only on designated number and type of

I would also read the agreement to be a problem if one was also using SCO, as it
"superceeds" all other agreements between SCO and the Company, which I
would wonder if it affects those licenses.

I did not make the link above clickable, as SCO has renamed or altered links in
the past, perhaps due to referencing pages from this or other sites. Copy and
paste it, sorry.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interesting Links on Copyright Infringement
Authored by: sproggit on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 05:40 PM EDT
I thought it might be useful to read up on some background information relating to copyright infringements. Since both Novell and TSG went through a flurry of copyright registrations a while back, and since we appear in the TSG vs IBM case to be looking at either copyright and/or trade secrety style violations, this seemed like a good idea.

Here's what I found so far - some of it might be useful background reading. First on copyright :-

The U.S. Copyright Office has this rather interesting page on copyright infringement, which gives some insights into steps a court can take to remedy copyright infringement. It's interesting to note that this doesn't really address software copyright infringement [i.e. the genie-out-of-the-bottle problem].

For a comparison only, the UK has a very similar set of guidelines, which covers in more detail the process a potential plaintiff should consider de scribed here. Obviously there are subtle differences, and the UK link is interesting in as much as despite the fact that looks very impressive and authoritative, it doesn't actually claim to be, and does not have a "" domain registration.

If you do follow the link to the US Copyright office page, I urge you to scroll down and read the section about Limitations on liability relating to material online. Now it would take AllParadox or another Groklawrian to be able to give us a full interpretation of where the law stands with respect to IBM's alleged publication of copyrighted material, but I did like this piece in particular :-

(iii) Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.

All of which suggests to me that before this case even got to Court, The SCO Group were obliged by copyright law to approach IBM and ask them to "remove" allegedly offending material from public access, but more importantly to go to IBM with enough detail to enable IBM to identify and remove the offending material. Some chance! Now, we could debate back and forth the degree of success that IBM [or any other party] might have in the conduct of such as request in this case, but I think the more interesting point is that The SCO Group clearly failed to obey the correct and due process of the law before seeking legal relief. Not being a US citizen and therefore not familiar with the minutae of her laws, I can't say with confidence, but if I'm reading this stuff correctly, this could easily become the basis of a Lanham Act counter-claim by IBM. [ Duh! groan all our US readers collectively...]

Seriously, though, with IBM repeatedly asking, through the Court, for The SCO Group to get specific, and with the Copyright laws of the US clearly demonstrating the the allegedly infringed party should first request the alleged infringer to cease such acts, IBM have 3 years of Court motions to show that The SCO Group have deliberately failed to follow the law. Somebody - please - tell me that Judge Kimball can dismiss any and all copyright claims with prejudice...

Anyway, time to go and do some digging on contract violations, non-disclosure agreements and "methods and concepts"...

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO Press Release
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 06:47 PM EDT
August 5th 2003:

Headline: SCO Announces Intellectual Property License for Linux

Subheadline: SCO Announces Intellectual Property License for Linux

Now what was it that they were denying again?


[ Reply to This | # ]

They said they had a mountain of CODE
Authored by: kawabago on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 07:26 PM EDT
They never said they had a mountain of methods and concepts.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Are we getting overboard?
Authored by: PolR on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 07:27 PM EDT
I am just checking if I understand correctly.

SCOG has stated 293 claims of "allegedly misued material". Each of the
293 claims might use a different legal theory isn't it? Each of them has to be
shot down individually based on the specifics of its theory, isn't it?

Of cours if we can bundle a group of them based on some similarity, they can be
shot down as a group. This is what judge Wells did. SCOG objected to shooting
down these claims, arguing the theory relevant to these claims.

This does not mean the claims not shot down by judge Wells are based on the same
theory. They can still say they own IP in Linux based on these other claims.

Do I understand it correctly? I am just trying to make sense out of this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Shades of 1984
Authored by: DaveAtFraud on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 07:55 PM EDT
A girl certainly has to work mighty hard to keep all the history straight.
Especially when someone keeps trying to change history when it is inconvenient.


Quietly implementing RFC 1925 wherever I go.

[ Reply to This | # ]

String Theory
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 25 2006 @ 10:26 PM EDT
Yup.... every day it looks more and more like string theroy to me. 11
dimensions, but not sure which one we're in at the moment.

I am not a lawyer, physicist or mathemetician, so I don't understand String
Theory just about as well as I don't understand these SCO suits. That's MY form
of negative knowledge!


[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ, Nuke parent for language (n/t)
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 12:43 AM EDT
no text

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 06:02 AM EDT
The original Dear Linux User letter is still up on SCO's Caldera site.

In this letter we are identifying a portion of our copyright protected code that has been incorporated into Linux without our authorization.

I am not a 'C' programmer, but I do know a header file when I see it. SCO is offering a binary only license for using the IP in a header file.

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.

Is that Caldera in the web address the same as the Caldera on a Linux distribution that I have beside me?

Finally, what is that word Sincerely at the end of the letter supposed to signify?

Even more finally, I now have Ubuntu running on my main computer complete with all bells and whistles. It does everything but make the coffee, do I need additional hardware for this, or will upgrading from totem-xine to kaffeine be sufficient?

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO now claims rights to coding style.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 08:43 AM EDT
SCO has apparently now switched it's claims from "concepts and methods" to coding style. Apparently IBM's contract with AT&T prevents IBM from using similar coding style ot talking about it.

SCO shares glimpses of alleged IBM Unix misdeeds

In one case regarding software "semaphores" that control when computing resource availability through a locking mechanism, "IBM developer Tim Wright expressly told non-IBM Linux developers about locking techniques "that are not currently used in Linux," then stated that "the classic coding style in Dynix/ptx is..." followed by specific source code.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 09:49 AM EDT
Re-reading some of the SCO pages regarding their SCOSource Program , a couple of things caught my attention:

8. Why doesn’t SCO just simply publish this code so that it can be taken out of Linux if it is indeed infringing? And why do you require a non-disclosure agreement to view some of this infringing code?

...SCO has confidentiality clauses in all of our contracts with more than 3,000 licensees that specifically state that this UNIX source code has to be held in confidence. If SCO published this UNIX source code, SCO itself would be in violation of these contracts.

20. Why does SCO require an NDA to be signed to view evidence of UNIX System IP in Linux?

...SCO is obligated to protect this source code, both to preserve its value to SCO and its shareholders, as well as to prevent devaluation of the source code that it has licensed (at considerable expense) to many customers.

And recalling a Blast from the Past from Ransom Love:

Indeed, at first we wanted to open-source all of Unix's code, but we quickly found that even though we owned it, it was, and still is, full of other companies' copyrights.

The challenge was that there were a lot of business entities that didn't want this to happen. Intel [Corp.] was the biggest opposition.

I can see how, if I were a UNIX licensee, I might feel that Caldera's announcement of putting UNIX code into Linux would seriously devalue (such as it is) what I paid for "at considerable expense". Could some UNIX licensee(s) have pressured Caldera about this, and, recalling IBM's references to moving AIX code into Linux, Caldera decided to deflect the pressure? Could that be the reason Love was out and McBride, someone with a history of litigation, was chosen to replace him?

Maybe that is why they are continuing with this seemingly lost case, if IBM doesn't destroy them, someone else will destroy them for "not protecting the assets", both of licensees and shareholders.

[ Reply to This | # ]

durning the 1st summary judgement didn't..
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 10:01 AM EDT
SCO try to find the code, they didn't say they didn't have to find the code,
they didn't say they didn't have to prove they owned it. It seems they were
sincerely trying to find the code as IBM compelled them. Now they seem to
change their tune.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 01:45 PM EDT
Love the line "Due to the limitations of the GPL"

I am loving that businesses are so frustrated with the GPL

It is an honest and open license and is pretty straightforward and has no
limitations in my view.

But then when the lawyers and coporations get a hold of it it all the sudden has

The IT world is changing folks and corporations better get a clue stick and
start embracing because "the truth happens".

SCO and microsoft I hope both die a slow and painful death and we can use them
as an example to other slimeball companies who want to mess with the GPL.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: ExcludedMiddle on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 02:38 PM EDT
By the way, I think we know now what they meant by "IP" in that context. They probably meant methods and concepts, as opposed to actual code, doncha think? Anyway, that's what I think. A girl certainly has to work mighty hard to keep all the history straight.
I've been thinking about this statement, and I don't think that this is exactly the case. We're looking now, from the jaded view of a hackneyed legal strategy based upon contracts not copyright. It's my understanding that even if SCO won this contracts claim, all of the rest of the world who is unbound by these agreements would not be affected, unless they could also prove that these Methods and Concepts are somehow also copyright-bound. I believe that their idea when they published the statement that PJ quotes here is that they actually did own that millions of lines of code.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 04:56 PM EDT

From the SCO Intellectual Property Protection FAQ

Can I see the IP License before I purchase it?
Yes. The SCO IP license can be viewed prior to purchasing from the SCO web site at

I've loocked all over the site and can't find the text of the licence

I also thaught this was fun from the description page

Licenses must be registered at in order to be activated.

SCO is offering introductory, promotion pricing until October 1, 2003. Customers who are interested in purchasing the SCO IP license for Linux should contact their SCO sales representative or call SCO at 1-800 726-8649 for further Information.

The introductory, promotional pricing available until December 31, 2003 is as follows:

A client license for a single user desktop system is $199.

Server Licenses
RTU SCO IP in a Linux Distribution Promotional License Fee

With 1 CPU         
With 2 CPUs         $1,149
With 4 CPUs         $2,499
With 8
CPUs         $4,999
Each Additional CPU $749

So what happend to all the staff that where supposed to maintain the web site :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 27 2006 @ 10:09 PM EDT
From the screenshot: "These customers unknowingly received illegal copies
of SCO property..."

I love it! How do you receive illegal copies of SCO property? Have they
copyrighted the blueprints for their headquarters, and then their
"customers" unknowingly received copies of SCO's headquarters?

I guess this is coming from the company that called the GPL "illegal",
so it wouldn't surprise me if they think that copying property is in any way

[ Reply to This | # ]

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