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Open Letter to Darl McBride, CEO of The SCO Group: Proposal of Truce

Feb 15, 2004, 20:20 (45 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nathan Hand)

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Dear Darl McBride,

Over the past 12 months The SCO Group's lawsuit against IBM has spilled over into new territory. What was initially a contract dispute between IBM and The SCO Group has now mutated into a war of words between The SCO Group and the Linux community. I am tired of the conflict and I propose a truce; a way forward for both our organisations.

Here are our terms of the truce:

  • We fully recognise your right to defend your IP. We ask that you recognise our right to defend our IP. This means obeying the terms of our licenses. You must stop distributing Linux, Samba and GCC unless you are willing to agree to the terms of our General Public License (GPL).
  • You must stop attacking the General Public License (GPL). You have spearheaded a massive publicity campaign to discredit our software license. You have used all communication channels available to you: the press, the media, private letters to American senators, open letters to businesses, conference forums, financial reports, etc. There is no justification for your behaviour. Your actions are harmful to both our organisations and you must stop immediately.
  • Please do not accuse us of trying to destroy the economy. We are not anti-capitalist. We believe Linux and the GPL will drive the next growth spurt for the world economy. By donating the tools of software development and office automation to the entire world--through software that we have written and freely licensed--we believe there will be explosive growth in the quantity and quality of software. Our software will be the enabling technology to spur further growth in the industries where real economic wealth is created.
  • Please do not use rhetoric to vilify our community. You have claimed or implied that we are communists, terrorists, fanatical, vandals, anti-American and opposed to intellectual property rights. None of that rhetoric is true. Your defamation against us must stop immediately.
  • Work with us to resolve the IP infringements you claim are in Linux. It is counter-productive to allow any such problems to continue. The way forward for both our organisations is for The SCO Group's IP to be removed from Linux, if there is truly an infringement.
  • Limit your disputes with IBM, Novell and Red Hat to the court room. You will receive fair compensation, if the courts graciously rule in your favour. Do not try and extract compensation from the users of Linux. We have done nothing wrong--the blame, if any, lies squarely with IBM--so we do not deserve to be treated so unfairly.
  • Stop telling the public that you can charge a fee for Linux. You may charge whatever you like for your own intellectual property, but you may not disobey the terms of the General Public License that we have chosen for Linux. Our license specifically requires no-fee licensing for our intellectual property. You are violating our intellectual property rights by attempting to charge a fee for the use of Linux.
  • You have stated many times that intellectual property is more valuable when it can be protected and grown. We agree with that statement. But we cannot protect and grow Linux--our intellectual property--while it is contaminated with The SCO Group's intellectual property. You must immediately remove the obstacles you have created to prevent us from protecting and growing our intellectual property.

Though I might represent a vanishingly small percentage of the Linux community, I still believe you are a reasonable man. You have a valuable asset and you are seeking a return on investment for your asset. We can appreciate that; we feel the same way about our own intellectual property, though our ROI is more wide-reaching than mere dollars and cents.

But it is not reasonable for you to make profit at our expense. We have done nothing wrong. Punishing us for the alleged wrongdoings of IBM is entirely unreasonable behaviour. You must stop your efforts to decrease the intellectual property value in Linux; software that we have spent the past 13 years creating.

Linux is not your software to control. Linux is our intellectual property and we ask that you respect that.

Sincerely,
Nathan Hand
Linux Developer and Enthusiast

(This work is distributed under the Creative Commons License.)

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