Why the GPL Sinks SCO’s Copyright Infringement Claims, Even if it Owned the Copyrights

“As you may recall, if you’ve been around since 2003, SCO’s
position on the GPL has been that while it may have distributed its
code under the GPL, it didn’t mean to do it, that it never
knowingly distributed Unix or Unixware code under the GPL. I’d like
to briefly explain why that excuse doesn’t matter to either Novell
or IBM. IBM of course has always taken the position that it hasn’t
infringed any copyrights, no matter who owns them. But let’s take
SCO’s words at face value, and pretend that they are true. Then how
does the GPL moot their claims?

“So you can try to prove me wrong, if you are so inclined,
before I begin, I’ll point you to Groklaw’s permanent page on the
GPL, where you can find resources to a great deal more information
on all versions of the GPL. I’ll be focusing here on GPLv2, the
license that Linux code is distributed under.

“What SCO Said:

“”Here’s how then-SCO executive Chris Sontag explained SCO’s
position to CNET in June of 2003: And LinuxTag said in a statement,
“Until a few weeks ago, SCO itself distributed the Linux
kernel…as a member of the UnitedLinux alliance. Thus, even if SCO
owns parts of the Linux kernel, it has made them into Free Software
by distributing them under the GPL.”

“Not so, counters SCO’s Sontag.

“”The GPL requires the intentional act of the legal copyright
holder to affirmatively and knowingly donate the source code to the
GPL,” Sontag said. “You can’t inadvertently GPL your code.”


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