US Indymedia Global Indymedia Publish About us
Printed from Boston IMC : http://boston.indymedia.org/
Boston.Indymedia
IVAW Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier
Testimonies
Brad Presente

Other Local News

Spare Change News
Open Media Boston
Somerville Voices
Cradle of Liberty
The Sword and Shield

Local Radio Shows

WMBR 88.1 FM
What's Left
WEDS at 8:00 pm
Local Edition
FRI (alt) at 5:30 pm

WMFO 91.5 FM
Socialist Alternative
SUN 11:00 am

WZBC 90.3 FM
Sounds of Dissent
SAT at 11:00 am
Truth and Justice Radio
SUN at 6:00 am

Create account Log in
Comment on this article | Email this article | Printer-friendly version
News ::
Open Source community fires back at SCO (english)
22 Sep 2003
The open source Linux community isn't organized hierarchically like a corporation, nor is it a counter-cultural fringe element. The truth is that the community is very much in the mainstream and includes some of the largest businesses -- and comprised of some 18 million users.
scolinux.gif
The open source Linux community isn't organized hierarchically like a corporation, nor is it a counter-cultural fringe element. The truth is that the community is very much in the mainstream and includes some of the largest businesses -- and comprised of some 18 million users.
Selections from Groklaw's Open Letter to SCO's CEO, Darl McBride:


Dear Mr. McBride,

Recently you wrote an "open letter to the open source community" (http://linuxworld.com/story/34007.htm) published September 9, 2003 by LinuxWorld. This reply is from a group within the open source / free software community. Because you addressed your letter to our community-at-large, we thought we should answer you ourselves.

Our community isn't organized hierarchically like a corporation, so it has no CEO or overall leader in that sense, except that Linus Torvalds leads Linux kernel development and Richard Stallman leads the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation (FSF)...

We are a large, international and varied group of people, which is appropriate because GNU/Linux is developed and used worldwide and the open source community to which you directed your letter is both global and diverse.

VIOLATIONS OF THE GPL AND COPYRIGHT LAW

Our first purpose in writing to you is to draw to your attention that there are consequences to violating the GNU General Public License, the GPL. (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)

You have continued to distribute the Linux kernel, despite alleging that it contains infringing source code. Simultaneously, you are attempting to compel purchase of "Linux Intellectual Property" licenses for binary-only use, the terms of which are incompatible with freedoms granted under the GPL.

According to the GPL, any violation of its license terms automatically and immediately terminates your permission to modify or distribute the software or derivative works...

WE DO BELIEVE IN COPYRIGHT LAW

Despite the false impression you attempt to paint in your letter -- that we are a lawless community that doesn't respect copyright law -- we wish to inform you that we do believe in copyright law. It is the legal foundation upon which the GPL is built, and we rely upon it to protect our rights. If the Linux kernel developers didn't believe in copyright, they would have released their software into the public domain instead of choosing to license it under the GPL.

You are required by law to respect the Linux kernel authors' copyrights, as well as the license they chose to use, the GPL. It is hypocritical to complain of alleged violations of your copyrights and licenses while at the same time disregarding the equivalent legal rights of others.

YOU HAVE SHOWN US NO INFRINGING SOURCE CODE

You have refused to show us, much less prove, any infringing source code. If you showed source code that proved to be infringing, it would be immediately removed. Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman, and the FSF's attorney, Eben Moglen, have each told you so repeatedly as men of honor. You refuse to let that happen. Why? It appears to us it is because you have no infringing source code to show...

WE POLICE SOURCE CODE EFFECTIVELY -- DO YOU?

It took only a day or so for the source code shown at SCOForum to begin to be identified by members of the open source community. If we do not police source code effectively, as you claim, why were they able to so quickly identify the code? You, in contrast, had no idea where that source code came from, or to whom it belonged, or you surely would not have used it to attempt to prove "infringement" of "your" source code. The evidence indicates it is your due diligence system that is broken, not ours...

Any proprietary software company can police its own source code in Linux by checking the Linux source code. The Linux kernel is open to the public. If you see any source code that you believe is yours, you have only to speak up, and it will be immediately removed, upon confirmation that it is infringing. That is what you should have done...

If Linux did contain infringing UNIX source code that you failed to notice for years, or noticed but did nothing to prevent, despite the fact that the Linux source code was freely available at any time for your review, it raises questions about your internal processes and procedures for protecting your copyrights rather than demonstrating any purported "breakdown" in the open source methodology...

WHO MAKES UP THE OPEN SOURCE COMMUNITY TODAY?

Kindly bring up-to-date your concept of the people and organizations that make up the open source community. Your letter attempted to portray us as a counter-cultural fringe element. On the contrary, the truth is that our community is very much in the mainstream already and includes many of the largest and most successful businesses today, including IBM, Red Hat, Merrill Lynch, Lucent Technologies, Unilever, Verisign, Dell, Amazon, Google, Dreamworks, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the US Department of Defense, the US military, and many other federal, state, and local governments and governmental agencies, including, by the way, the town of St. George, Utah.

You can read a list of companies and governmental agencies that use GNU/Linux at Linux International's "Linux Success Stories" webpage. The Linux Documentation Project also has such a webpage, called "Powered by Linux!", as does the Linux in Business website. The Linux Counter calculates there are currently 18 million users of GNU/Linux software...

DUAL LICENSING IS AN OPTION

...It is not a violation of the GPL to sell software released under that license. As the GPL FAQ points out, "The right to sell copies is part of the definition of free software." The "free" in free software refers to freedom, not that you can get it gratis. Many of us have paid for our free software, simply because it's more convenient than downloading it or as a way to thank the wonderful folks who developed and shared it with the world. If you're looking for a successful business model, you might consider the tried and true model of satisfied customers.

***

We have prepared a research document with links to evidence supporting our position and other resources that you may find helpful, including information about the GPL and the LGPL and how they work. The Inquirer is making our research document available online. We hope it will help you understand our position better and prove a useful resource to you and others interested in this controversy. We also believe it demonstrates that we have right on our side and that we will win.

Thank you for writing to us. We appreciate the opportunity to answer your letter. We trust you will give our response due consideration. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Members of The Open Source / Free Software Community at Groklaw


Groklaw is a technology legal news and research website currently dedicated to covering the SCO litigation and related news. Copyright Groklaw, 2003
See also:
http://www.groklaw.com/
Add a quick comment
Title
Your name Your email

Comment

Text Format
Anti-spam Enter the following number into the box:
To add more detailed comments, or to upload files, see the full comment form.