Response to SCO's Open Letter
Sep 10, 2003, 12:00 (80 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens)
Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame
[ Thanks to Gerry Tool
for this link. ]
Mr. McBride, in your "Open Letter to the Open Source Community"
your offer to negotiate with us comes at the end of a farrago of
falsehoods, half-truths, evasions, slanders, and
misrepresentations. You must do better than this. We will not
attempt to erect a compromise with you on a foundation of
Your statement that Eric Raymond was "contacted by the
perpetrator" of the DDoS attack on SCO begins the falsehoods. Mr.
Raymond made very clear when volunteering his information and
calling for the attack to cease that he was contacted by a
third-party associate of the perpetrator and does not have the
perpetrator's identity to reveal. The DDoS attack ceased, and has
not resumed. Mr. Raymond subsequently received emailed thanks for
his action from Blake Stowell of SCO.
Your implication that the attacks are a continuing threat, and
that the President of the Open Source Initiative is continuing to
shield their perpetrator, is therefore not merely both false and
slanderous, but contradictory with SCO's own previous behavior. In
all three respects it is what we in the open-source community have
come to expect from SCO. If you are serious about negotiating with
anyone, rather than simply posturing for the media, such behavior
In fact, leaders of the open-source community have acted
responsibly and swiftly to end the DDoS attacks â€"
just as we continue to act swiftly to address IP-contamination
issues when they are aired in a clear and responsible manner. This
history is open to public inspection in the linux-kernel archives
and elsewhere, with numerous instances on record of Linus Torvalds
and others refusing code in circumstances where there is reason to
believe it might be compromised by third-party IP claims.
As software developers, intellectual property is our stock in
trade. Whether we elect to trade our effort for money or rewards of
a subtler and more enduring nature, we are instinctively respectful
of concerns about IP, credit, and provenance. Our licenses (the GPL
and others) work with copyright law, not against it. We
reject your attempt to portray our community as a howling
wilderness of IP thieves as a baseless and destructive smear.
We in the open-source community are accountable. Our source code
is public, exposed to scrutiny by anyone who wishes to contest its
ownership. Can SCO or any other closed-source vendor say the same?
Who knows what IP violations, what stripped copyrights, what stolen
techniques lurk in the depths of closed-source code? Indeed, not
only SCO's past representations that it was merging GPLed Linux
technology into SCO Unix but Judge Debevoise's rulings in the last
big lawsuit on Unix IP rights suggest strongly that SCO should
clean up its own act before daring to accuse others of theft.
SCO taxes IBM and others with failing to provide warranties or
indemnify users against third-party IP claims, conveniently
neglecting to mention that the warranties and indemnities offered
by SCO and others such as Microsoft are carefully worded so that
the vendor's liability is limited to the software purchase price,
They thus offer no actual shield against liability claims or
damages. They are, in a word, shams designed to lull users into a
false sense of security -- a form of sham which we believe you
press on us solely as posturing, rather than out of any genuine
concern for users. We in the open-source community, and our
corporate allies, refuse to play that dishonest game.
You invite us to negotiate, but you have persistently refused to
state a negotiable claim. You have made allegations of a million
lines of copied code which are mathematically impossible given the
known, publicly accessible history of Linux development. You have
uttered vast conspiracy theories which fail to be vague only where
they are slanderous and insulting. You have already been compelled
to abandon major claims â€" such as the ownership of
SMP technology alleged in your original complaint against IBM
â€" on showings that they were false, and that you knew
or should have known them to be false,
Accordingly, we of the open-source community do not concede that
there is anything to negotiate. Linux is our work and our
lawful property, the distillation of twelve years of hard work,
idealism, creativity, tears, joy, and sweat by hundreds of
thousands of cooperating hackers all over the world. It is not
yours, has never been yours, and will never be yours.
If you wish to make a respectable case for contamination,
show us the code. Disclose the overlaps. Specify file by
file and line by line which code you believe to be infringing, and
on what grounds. We will swiftly meet our responsibilities under
law, either removing the allegedly infringing code or establishing
that it entered Linux by routes which foreclose proprietary