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Attorney: SCO's Case Dubious; Proprietary Software the Villain Here
Thursday, June 26 2003 @ 11:29 AM EDT



Anupam Chander, Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, a graduate of Yale Law School and Harvard College, who specializes in cyberlaw and international law, has a strong defense of open source software on FindLaw, cited on Slashdot, in which he confirms what I've been saying here. But because he is an attorney, he can speak with greater force. He says while SCO and Microsoft allege that it's dangerous to use open source software because you never know where the code comes from, it's actually closed, proprietary software that is dangerous, because you never know who will decide to sue you:
Proprietary interests, especially in intellectual property, tend to breed confidentiality - as anyone who ever signed a nondisclosure agreement with a fledgling dotcom with a "brilliant business idea" well knows. And confidentiality, in turn, breeds conspiracy theories, and allegations of theft - or unfair competition, or breach of contract, or the like. In contrast, if there is something amiss in open code, it will be more difficult to hide.
He also addresses the issue of SCO claiming derivative code rights:
The final policy argument in favor of open source software is, of course, societal. At some point, information that is widely studied in universities, reprinted in college textbooks, and advanced through academic scholarship must be considered public domain.

For this reason, SCO's claims that its intellectual property rights extend to basic computing features of large operating systems cannot be allowed to stand. Otherwise, there will be no such thing as truly open, free software - and as a consequence, there will effectively be an economy-dragging tax on information technology.

In short, society has an interest in seeing SCO lose. As Jon "Maddog" Hall said in a speech in England, open source software is an international treasure that mustn't be allowed to be destroyed by greedy individuals, and he compared SCO to looters stealing Iraq's cultural treasures for a quick buck.


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