Linux resellers dismiss SCO licensing claims

Linux resellers dismiss SCO licensing claims

Members of the Linux community have labelled SCO Group plans to hit them with Unix licensing fees as extortion.

In the latest development in the ongoing war between SCO and the Linux community, the vendor has registered US copyright for its Unix System V source code and announced it will offer UnixWare licenses to Linux users.

The argument first erupted in May when SCO launched a $1 billion lawsuit against IBM claiming Unix code had been copied into the Linux kernel. Open Source Victoria (OSV) filed a letter of complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after the SCO Group announced its latest intentions.

OSV member, Con Zymaris, said the complaint asked the ACCC to investigate SCO Group activities “in light of its unsubstantiated claims and extortive legal threats for money against possibly hundreds of thousands of Australians”.

Zymaris dismissed the SCO copyright registration as a filing procedure that proved nothing and claimed the group’s plans to ask Linux users for Unix licensing fees was unethical and possibly illegal in Australia.

OSV has asked the ACCC to consider whether the demands are in breach of the Trade Practices Act.

“Up until now this has been a civil dispute with IBM but now SCO is threatening to hunt down Linux users around the globe and ask them for money,” Zymaris said. “As far as we are concerned, this is a misrepresentation of need.

“We would like the ACCC to ask SCO to put up or shut up. They should tell people what they claim ownership of and ask them to remove it or go jump.”

Leon Brooks, of WA-based Mandrake reseller CyberKnights, said the SCO legal action had been hurting his business during the past couple of months and announced his intentions to lodge a complaint with the ACCC.

“The license fees they are proposing are extortion and we are sick of it," he said. "The fear and confusion is costing me business and causing people who are clear about technical issues to start asking questions.

“Some customers that were planning Linux installations have put it on hold because they are hearing about SCO so often that they are taking the threat seriously.

“I have contacted the ACCC and started the process of registering an official complaint. SCO doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

Anthony Rumble, of Sydney-based distributor Everything Linux, accused SCO of scare tactics.

He said the ongoing debate was causing concern amongst end users, particularly in the high-end corporate market.

But SCO Group regional general manager A/NZ, Kieran O’Shaughnessy, said the company was merely looking to protect its intellectual property and insisted the licensing program would not cause problems for resellers.

“This [licensing program] has not been instigated by resellers, they are simply providing customers with a way of running software legally,” he said.

“It is the customer’s choice at the end of the day but if they refuse the license they will have to face the consequences.”

For more on this story, see this week's issue of ARN.

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