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An Edited Letter To The Editor September 26, 2003

Posted by devhen in Linux, SCO.

Yesterday I came across an article on News.com entitled Handicapping SCO Versus Linux. The article is an interview of Stuart Meyer, an intellectual property lawyer with Fenwick & West, on the SCO/Linux IP claims. This article, like most all others you can find throughout the popular news web sites, was sadly misleading in that it did not mention the most important facts of the SCO/Linux situation. So, I sent a letter, both to the article's author and to Stuart Meyer explaining that they were misunderstanding the fundamental aspects of the issue and also doing a disservice to their industry by failing to adequately inform their readers. I got a reply from the author asking if I would like my thoughts to be inlcluded in News.com's letters to the editor. I said yes, that would be OK, and now you can find an edited, truncated version of my letter here. Read on to see the letter as it was originally written.

Original letter sent to Ina Fried of News.com:

In your recent News.com article entitled "Handicapping SCO versus Linux"
you state in a question to Stuart Meyer:

Most people in the open-source community downplay the SCO suit as
frivolous. Do you take it seriously?

With all due respect, I consider this a very poorly researched and
understood statement. Were you to really understand the stance of the Open
Source community you would find that they take this matter extremely
seriously because it seriously threatens a very important part of their
community: the Linux operating system, a product that they have spent
considerable time preparing in order to avoid these types of issues.

Linus Torvalds, Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens, key figures in the Open
Source community, have all published responses to SCO's claims. They are
dealing with the matter in a very respectable and honest manner with their
sole intention being to settle these disputes by ridding their software of
any infringing code. They can't do this, however, without SCO disclosing
the alleged code because they can't find it. Not because they are
attempting to hide it but because it is, seemingly, not there.

While an IP claim against Open Source software is very serious and should
be dealt with immediately and effectively, the SCO claims are at this
point in time more or less baseless and they themselves are stopping this
matter from being resolved. Whether or not they actually know of any
violating code and could prove that code to be infringing in court, they
are refusing to disclose the code because they know that any code proved
to be infringing would be immediately removed and proper actions would be
taken. They would much rather spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt and
continue to collect liscense fees from Linux's enemies, as well as attract
media attention, than to actually see this matter come to a fair end.

Therefore, I consider your comment listed above and the overall tone of
the parent article to be yet another misrepresentation of the truth and a
disservice to our industry in that it fails to address the most important
aspects of this issue. Those being that, along with the growing popularity
of Linux, many companies with rival products feel threatened because an
adequate product is being offered that can perform similarly to their own
at a mere fraction of the cost (and in some cases, for free). This has
lead SCO to feal that they can save their financial situation by providing
a service of spreading FUD about the Linux OS and collect payments from
its rivals. These types of business tactics, if not looked down upon,
should in the very least be recognized and pointed out, rather than merely
being supported by the media which in effect turns the media into a tool
by which businesses can enforce their desires, whether honest or
ill-willed. Your industry diserves to know the truth but you and your
peers in the media are failing sadly to provide them with this in regard
to the SCO/Linux issue.


Devin Henderson



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