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FSF.org: SCO Scuttles Sense, Claiming GPL Invalidity

Aug 18, 2003, 19:00 (17 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eben Moglen)

"Now that the tide has turned, and SCO is facing the dissolution of its legal position, claiming to 'enforce its intellectual property rights' while actually massively infringing the rights of others, the company and its lawyers have jettisoned even the appearance of legal responsibility. Last week's Wall Street Journal carried statements by Mark Heise, outside counsel for SCO, challenging the 'legality' of the Free Software Foundation's GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL both protects against the baseless claims made by SCO for license fees to be paid by users of free software, and also prohibits SCO from its ongoing distribution of the Linux kernel, a distribution which infringes the copyrights of thousands of contributors to the kernel throughout the world. As IBM's recently-filed counterclaim for copyright infringement and violation of the GPL shows, the GPL is the bulwark of the community's legal defense against SCO's misbehavior. So naturally, one would expect SCO to bring forward the best possible arguments against the GPL and its application to the current situation. But there aren't any best arguments; there aren't even any good arguments, and what SCO's lawyer actually said was arrant, unprofessional nonsense...

"This argument is frivolous, by which I mean that it would be a violation of professional obligation for Mr Heise or any other lawyer to submit it to a court. If it were true, no copyright license could permit the licensee to make multiple copies of the licensed program. That would make not just the GPL 'illegal.' Mr Heise's supposed theory would also invalidate the BSD, Apache, AFL, OSL, MIT/X11, and all other free software licenses. It would invalidate the Microsoft Shared Source license. It would also eliminate Microsoft's method for the distribution of the Windows operating system, which is pre-loaded by hard drive manufacturers onto disk drives they deliver by the hundreds of thousands to PC manufacturers. The licenses under which the disk drive and PC manufacturers make multiple copies of Microsoft's OS would also, according to Mr Heise, violate the law. Redmond will be surprised..."

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