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eWeek: Open-Source Legal Experts Dismiss SCO's Copyright Claims

Dec 11, 2003, 16:00 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols)

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"'The SCO letter is rubbish dressed up like a culinary masterpiece,' declared Tom Carey, a partner at Bromberg & Sunstein, a Boston intellectual property law firm. Carey continues, 'As an IP lawyer, I believe in the importance of IP protection, and the incentive that copyright and patent rights give to the promotion of technology. Eldred v. Ashcroft, the recent Supreme Court case cited by SCO, stands for the proposition that Congress has wide latitude in extending those protections. So far, SCO is on solid ground.'

"But, Carey went on, 'SCO's letter asserts two opinions about the GPL. First, that it is a mistake. And, second, that it is contrary to the U.S. Constitution. The first opinion is a judgment call. Perhaps the contributors to the open-source movement are making a mistake, but they are free to do so.

"'The second opinion is where the rubbish lies,' Carey said. 'While the U.S. Constitution grants Congress broad powers to protect authors and inventors, it does not grant Congress to power to prevent authors and inventors from giving their work away (or from licensing it for free on the condition that derivative works also be licensed for free). Nor has Congress ever attempted to prevent authors and inventors from giving their work away, or licensing them for free. It is not illegal, immoral or unconstitutional to be generous with IP. Heaven help us if such an intellectual-property regime ever comes to pass...'"

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