September 2, 2003

Top 10 things to do with your SCO Linux invoice

- by Joe Barr -
The SCO Group has reportedly started invoicing commercial users of Linux, claiming the money is owed to them due to their unproven claims that Linux contains their IP. Given that their public attempts to substantiate these claims have been proven false, you may be wondering what you should do if you receive such an invoice. Wonder no more. As a public service for the Linux community, we at NewsForge have put our heads together and come up with the following list of suggestions. We have received no guidance from IBM in preparing this list.
  • Collect as many copies of the invoice as you can and then use them to protest intellectual piracy with a "Burn SCO Burn" bonfire.
  • Tape several copies together to make a "Darl Liner" to use on the bottom of your birdcage or kitty-litter pan, or use it to clean fish on.
  • Make copies of the invoice and use them as invitations to your next LUG event.
  • Frame a copy of the invoice and put it in a time capsule as a relic from The Dark Ages of IP.
  • Send a copy of the invoice to Microsoft and ask them to pay it since they support SCO's IP policies and you don't.
  • Forward a copy of the invoice to your state attorney general along with a letter requesting an investigation of The SCO Group for fraud and/or extortion. Explain in your letter that you are being invoiced for something which is both unsubstantiated and disputed.
  • Forward a copy of the invoice to the U.S. Postal Service along with a similar letter suggesting an investigation for mail fraud.
  • Forward a copy of the invoice with a letter to all of your elected state and federal lawmakers. Explain how it demonstrates that the entire body of intellectual property law needs rethinking in order to bring it back in line with its original intent. Instead of fostering creativity and the common welfare, it has become a negative force which stifles innovation and provides only for corporate welfare.
  • Send SCO a registered letter demanding proof of their claims. Tell them unsubstantiated claims based on evidence like the code snippets they recently in showed in Las Vegas do not suffice. Add that if such proof is not forthcoming, you will report them to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
  • Obtain a quote for legal research of the invoice and send SCO a bill for that amount, explaining that as a prudent, responsible businessman, and you cannot pay an invoice unless you are certain of its validity.
  • If you live in the Bay Area, consider subscribing to a new low-traffic, announcement-only mailing list of a group called the Bay Area Software Professionals for Responsibility and Accountability. They will keep you informed as to local actions and responses to SCO's invoice. If you live elsewhere, organize or get involved with a local group with similar concerns.

I know. That's eleven instead of ten. But that's by design. It makes this Top 10 list more more powerful than those that have only ten.

Please feel free to turn up the amp a little higher by adding to the list in your comments, humorous or otherwise. You never know who else in the community you may be helping with your suggestions. And no matter what you decide to do with your invoice, even if you decide to pay the tribute SCO demands, be sure to heed the advice given elsewhere by Linux Journal Editor-in-chief Don Marti: save the original copy of the invoice and the envelope it came in. They may be needed as evidence in court.

Joe Barr has been writing about technology for 10 years, and about Linux for five. His work has appeared in IBM Personal Systems Journal, LinuxGazette, LinuxWorld, Newsforge, phrack, SecurityFocus, and He is the founder of The Dweebspeak Primer, the official newsletter of the Linux Liberation Army.


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