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PR: OSDL Releases Q&A Addressing Recent Legal Actions by SCO Group

Aug 14, 2003, 21:00 (10 Talkback[s])


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[ Thanks to Craig Oda for this release. ]

BEAVERTON, OR, August 14, 2003 - The Open Source Development Lab (OSDL), a global consortium of leading technology companies dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Linux, today released a Q&A paper written by noted technology law and intellectual property expert Lawrence Rosen. The paper asks and answers key questions about SCO Group's current lawsuit against IBM and about its threatened litigation against users of Linux. The Q&A paper is designed to help Linux users with information to better understand the legal issues in this case, and to help them evaluate their own position with respect to SCO's demand for license fees from companies that continue to use Linux.

In his paper, Rosen identifies some of the legal issues raised by the SCO Group's claims as they relate to Linux development and usage. He does not offer legal advice, but rather frames some of the key questions that companies should ask their own counsel about their use of Linux. He points out that SCO has a long way to go before it can assert broad intellectual property claims against an operating system that was written by thousands of open source programmers worldwide.

"As we have noted before, we see no evidence that end users are slowing down their Linux implementation plans because of SCO's actions," said Stuart Cohen, OSDL CEO. "Mr. Rosen's paper is designed to help users assess whether or not they need to purchase a license to use Linux. We want all those in the Linux industry to know OSDL's position on this issue: Absent clear, open, and publicly available evidence that using Linux violates rights that SCO has not already freely conferred by distributing Linux under the GPL license over the course of several years, there is real doubt as to whether end users should purchase a license from SCO."

Key issues covered in Rosen's paper include:

  • Extent to which the Linux operating system is involved in SCO vs. IBM
  • Extent to which any single entity has copyright control over Linux
  • Assessment of impact SCO vs. IBM may have on users of Linux

The real legal issue in this case is between two companies, not between a software provider and end users, nor between a company and an operating system, Rosen says. Users should be completely informed of their rights and obligations, if any, before they take steps to purchase a software license they may never need.

"To read the entire paper, please visit the OSDL Web site at:


Lawrence Rosen is founding partner of Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm, with offices in Los Altos Hills and Ukiah, California (www.rosenlaw.com). He also servers as general counsel and secretary of Open Source Initiative (www.opensource.org), which reviews and approves open source licenses and educates the public about open source issues.

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