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SCO Clarifies, FSF Counters, and Groklaw Howls with Laughter
Tuesday, October 28 2003 @ 12:50 AM EST

Well, we're definitely having fun now.

Here's what Robert McMillan of Infoworld got Blake Stowell to say in clarification of its newest court document in the IBM case:

"The Free Software Foundation is the only entity that can enforce the GPL so, in effect, IBM is barred from trying to enforce the GPL with SCO," wrote Blake Stowell, a SCO spokesman, in an e-mail response to questions.
With regard to IBM's counterclaims that SCO has violated its patents, Stowell has this to say in defense:
"If we're in violation of them, then just about every other vendor in the entire software industry is in violation of them. What they're claiming is something that is a common practice within the software industry."
One lawyer interviewed by Infoworld sardonically reacted: "Arguing that (a patent) covers too many people isn't an effective defense."

Eben Moglen, that smoothie, says (and you can visualize for yourself the smile on his face):
"The proper enforcer of a copyright is the copyright holder," said Eben Moglen, general counsel for the FSF. "IBM says, 'You're using a copyrighted work of ours in a fashion which is prohibited by the Copyright Act, and you're doing so without our permission. You owe us damages and you must stop.'"

If the GPL is not a valid license, Moglen reasoned, then SCO itself does not have the right to redistribute Linux -- something it has done for years. "If SCO says the GPL isn't valid permission, then they have no valid permission," he said. "Redistributing copyrighted works without permission, we are told by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America Inc.) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) every day, is stealing."

Somebody needs to call the copyright police. There's stealing of IP going in in Lindon, Utah! Better yet, tell Senator Hatch. Heh heh. Only kidding. That might not be effective.

Groklaw readers have been posting some helpful and some funny reactions too. Here's Bruce Perens' take on the GPL:

Of course it's a license. But the point is that it removes no rights that are already yours under the default in copyright law. So it can be considered to be a straight copyright permission, like in the front of a book. Thus, it would need no compensation, no consent, etc. If you don't accept it, you get the default in copyright law, which is all rights reserved. So, if you were to invalidate the GPL, you would find you have fewer rights regarding the covered software, rather than more.

Now, you can consider it a contract, in that it has "you agree" language regarding the act of creating a derivative work, etc. But if you don't accept it, there isn't a legal theory under which you should would have the right to create a derivative work.

So, SCO would only make an infringer of itself if it succeeded in invalidating the GPL.

Another reader tries sincerely to explain the GPL to Blake one more time:
For the attention of Blake Stowell:

The GPL license itself is authored by the FSF. But the FSF is not the licensor of all GPL licensed code or other copyrighted works. In every case, a GPL licensed work contains a copyright statement, indicating the copyright owner. In many cases, the authors have indeed chosen to transfer their copyright interest to the FSF, in which case the license is from them, but this is not universal, by any means. Many contributors, including IBM, Intel, Red Hat, SGI and other big name contributors, choose to retain copyright themselves. In each case, the copyrighted work is licensed directly from them, under the terms of the GPL, without those licensors relinquishing their copyright. In those cases, the FSF is in no way a party to the transaction.

No need for us all to be serious about this, now that the heavy hitters have said what needs saying, so the rest of us can just have fun. One Grokker posted his view. He thinks SCO decided to tell "the world's funniest joke", a la the famous Monty Python skit, so that IBM's lawyers, when they read this Reply, would laugh so hard they'd die. That way, SCO wins by default.

Another reader enjoys imagining how it was when IBM's lawyers first received the SCO document:

Consider the scene in one of the conference rooms at Cravath, Swaine & Moore: howls of laughter, guys in Armani suits and ladies in Von Furstenberg originals rolling uncontrollably on the floor - "the GPL" (hee hee hee) "is" (guffaw) "unconstitutional" (ha ha HA HA...)"Oh, that's hilarious!"
Another reader confesses that SCO has found us out, and there is some sinister code in the kernel:
"void GPL ()


    destroy (value [copyrights]);
    for (j=0; j     {
        if isproprietary(software[j])
            destroy (software[j]);
        else {
            kill (kittens);
Oh, and another reader checked and reports that the 2.4.13-21 kernel source is still on SCO's FTP site.

Another reacts to their "GPL violates the Constitution" argument:

I can't believe they have the audacity to say that the GPL violates the Constitution. What is next? GPL is un-American, it violates the Patriot Act, it is a minion of al Qaeda, it is used by North Korea and Iran to build nuclear weapons, it caused the fires in Southern Cal., it is responsible for the downturn in the economy, it was the cause of 2000 presidential debacle, it interferes with satellite communications like solar flares, it leads to high infant mortality, it causes cancer, it is fattening and increases your cholesterol, and it makes people ugly. I see it coming to a court document soon!
Another reader says he thinks SCO owes him damages:
"EIGHTH AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE The GPL violates the U.S. Constitution, together with copyright, antitrust and export control laws, and IBM’s claims based thereon, or related thereto, are barred."

I sprayed beer all over my keyboard and monitor when I read this. Can I sue SCO for damages?

One more:
And it also violates the International Law of the Sea, Murphy's law, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and the principle of separation of church and state.

Whereas any license sales that SCO gets will be fully compliant with P.T. Barnum's Law of Applied Economics. :-)

So, that leaves...the GPL violates the law of gravity.

And, on Slashdot, one reader wrote: The GPL makes Baby Jesus cry.

So that's it from from Lake SCO-BeGone, everyone. Good night. It's been tons of fun.

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