SCO faces AUUG anger, claims Linux users still liable

Less than one week after SCO allegedly stated it had no plans to take action against commercial Linux users, the company’s Australia and New Zealand managing director Kieran O’Shaughnessy has reignited the threat.

Speaking as part of a panel session at the Australian Unix Users Group (AUUG) annual conference in Sydney yesterday, O’Shaughnessy faced a hostile audience, including FreeBSD developer and AUUG president Greg Lehey.

At the event O'Shaughnessy was forced to admit the legal threat against Linux users remained.

With the audience clearly fuming at what they were hearing, O’Shaughnessy pointed out that the company’s legal pursuits are not targeted at end users, but did make a reference to businesses that use Linux.

“There may be problems with commercial Linux users,” he said. “The SCO licence for Linux will be available in Australia and New Zealand within the next couple of months.” O'Shaughnessy said that, despite popular belief, "it is our desire to share information among interest groups".

“This IP battle is only one part of SCO’s business and is an add-on component. The core of SCO’s business is profitable," he said.

O’Shaughnessy then proceeded to defend SCO’s actions by outlining why the company is pursuing intellectual property claims.

“This is not a stock ‘pumping’ exercise, rather, SCO feels it has no choice [but] to sue, having tried to resolve the IP issues without the use of litigation,” he said. “SCO owns the Unix operating system and we have found significant Unix code in Linux.”

According to SCO, the sub-licensing agreements purchased from Novell state that all derivative works of Unix must be kept in confidence.

“SCO has exclusive rights to control the use and availability of derivative works,” O’Shaughnessy said. “This includes releasing derivative works to the open source community.”

Also sitting on the panel was Cybersource CEO Con Zymaris who reiterated that open source development depends on copyright.

“Tell us what the code is,” Zymaris said. “Unless it’s proven to me, I don’t believe it.”

Next to speak was Greg Lehey who immediately referred to SCO’s “evidence” of stolen code.

“The code SCO has referred to was released under an open source licence and was removed from the Linux kernel before it was used as evidence by SCO,” Lehey said. “So far I have not seen a snippet of evidence for SCO’s case. If anything, SCO and not anyone else has been violating licence agreements.”

O’Shaughnessy was then asked by members of the audience if the Linux distribution they released under the GPL (Gnu General Public Licence) represented a complete back flip by the company.

“SCO has indeed distributed Linux which is different than donating the code,” he said. “We are not going away and eventually want to make Linux stronger in the enterprise.”

Also present in the audience was IBM Australia and New Zealand Linux business manager Geoff Lawrence who declined to comment.

IBM has stated that SCO has violated the GNU General Public Licence, under which it accepted Linux contributions and distributed Linux.

When asked by an audience member if SCO would identify the Linux code in question so it can be removed, O’Shaughnessy said: “It is not in our interests to release key evidence before the trial.”

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