OTTAWA, Wednesday August 20, 2003 -- A coalition of computer professionals using and contributing to the Linux operating system, have united to oppose the recent actions of high-tech company the SCO Group(1). The Utah, USA-based organization (formerly SCO, Caldera, Caldera International, SCO-Caldera) has publicly been making unsubstantiated legal threats against users and developers of Linux since it launched a lawsuit against International Business Machines (IBM) in March of 2003.
Comprising Linux professionals and users from across Canada, the Canadian Linux Interests Coalition(CLIC)(2), was organized by members of Canada's network of Linux Users Groups, which are the grassroots providers of support and advocacy for open source software. Canadian Linux users, like those in other countries, are outraged by SCO's broad and unproven claims. They will not remain silent while SCO disparages Linux, the work of thousands of contributors world-wide.
The SCO Group contends that the Linux kernel (the core of the system) contains programming code that they effectively own, and on that basis seek to collect royalties on installations of Linux. Yet they have refused to publicly reveal what code that is. SCO is in fact showing the disputed material to persons who sign their non-disclosure agreement (NDA). However, CLIC spokesperson Shad Young argues that, "Seeing source code under an NDA is not a valid way to disclose the allegedly-infringing code. Anyone who signs the NDA is no longer in a legal position to describe or fix the problem. So the problem is impossible to remedy without proper public/unrestricted disclosure of the alleged infringement."
Despite this lack of substantive evidence, the SCO Group continues to make public statements designed to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt amongst Linux users and contributors--current and future--about the legitimacy of using the open source operating system.
CLIC asserts that Linux professionals and users in fact occupy the legal and moral high ground on this matter. There are many reasons to believe that the SCO Group's claim is flimsy, not the least of which is their refusal to fully reveal their evidence, says the coalition. Many others agree.
The Open Source Initiative has published a detailed rebuttal(3) of SCO's complaint which shows their allegations to be "incorrect or fundamentally misleading."
Open Source Development Labs has released a position paper(4) in which Eben Moglen, professor at Columbia Law School, asserts that, "Failure to come forward with evidence of any infringement of SCO's legal rights is suspicious." The paper goes on to provide ample reason for users of Linux not to be cowed by the SCO Group's threats.
CLIC believes that SCO's position is further undermined by the fact that SCO themselves contributed to the development of Linux and distribute it themselves (as "Caldera Open Linux") under the terms of the GNU General Public License(5), which allows all users of the Linux kernel the right to use it for any purpose, and to change or redistribute it.
CLIC say they want to make it clear that the Linux community will defend Linux and protect the numerous legitimate copyrights of its contributors, not only against the SCO Group, but against any current or future attacks. "We are encouraging other Linux users to be active in opposing SCO, and for this purpose we have set up an information clearinghouse on the world-wide web for Canadian Linux users. It will provides users the latest news on this matter, in addition to links related to defending themselves and their software," says Young. Users of Linux looking for legal recourse may wish to consult the Canadian Competition Bureau(6) or reference Canada's copyright laws(7), he adds.
In the months approaching the legal resolution of the SCO Group's complaint, CLIC, and other Canadians using, developing and deploying the Linux operating system, will continue to defend their legal rights to use Linux.
About CLIC and CLUE
The Canadian Linux Interests Coalition (CLIC) is a group of Linux professionals from across Canada devoted to defending the interests of Canadian Linux users, developers, and deployers.
It is a project hosted by the Canadian Linux Users Exchange (CLUE), Canada's forum for Linux information and collaboration.
1) the SCO Group - http://www.sco.com
2) CLIC - http://www.linux.ca/clic
3) the Open Source Initiative - http://www.opensource.org/sco-vs-ibm.html
4) Open Source Development Labs - http://www.osdl.org/newsroom/press_releases/2003/2 003_07_31_beaverton.html
5) the GNU General Public License - http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html#GPL
6) the Canadian Competition Bureau - http://cb-bc.gc.ca/epic/internet/incb-bc.nsf/vwGen eratedInterE/home
7) Canada's Copyright Act - http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-42
Shad Young, Press Contact, CLIC