Feeds

SCO moves to limit Smoking Gun Memo damage

Don't look at the date

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

SCO has moved to limit the fall-out from a recently unsealed memo, in which incoming Caldera boss Darl McBride was told that the company had no copyright claims on the Linux kernel. The memo said an audit had looked for, but failed to find a "smoking gun". A week later Caldera renamed itself The SCO Group, and three months later hired lawyer David Boies to lead a legal campaign based on its IP claims.

In effect, today's turn of events - in which SCO countered a pro-IBM memo with a pro-SCO memo - reprises an exchange between IBM and SCO lawyers played out last September when the sealed documents were referred to in court. This time we are able to see what they're talking about.

Today's memo is authored by Bob Swartz, whose work is summarized in the "No Smoking Gun" memo. Swartz conducted an analysis of Red Hat Linux 5.2 and compared it to UnixWare and OpenServer code. His conclusions are at odds with the NSG memo we reported yesterday.

Swartz himself draws three conclusions.

"First, many portions of Linux were clearly written with access to a copy of Unix sources," he writes. "Second there is some code where Linux is line for line identical to Unix…. Thirdly, there are also portions of the programs which appear to have been rewritten, perhaps for the purposes of obfuscating that the code is essentially the same."

SCO drew attention to the third point in a briefing issued to the press today. So was there smoke after all?

Alas, Swartz's own memo is dated October 4, 1999, almost three years earlier before the 'No Smoking Gun' summary of his work provided to McBride.

Summarizing Swartz's study in 2002, Michael Davidson wrote -

"Most of this work was automated using tools which were designed to to [sic] fuzzy matching and ignore trivial differences in formatting and spelling)."

Throw both memos into a time machine, which would reverse the dates, and the picture would look very different. Alas time machines are not permitted in US courts. As it is, we must assume that either SCO/Caldera revised its opinion, and after checking the lookalike code found it had no rights to make copyright claims, or that Michael Davidson misreported it entirely in 2002.

"There is, indeed, a lot of code that is common between UNIX and Linux (all of the X Window system for example) but invariably it turned out that the common code was something that both we (SCO) and the Linux community had obtained (legitimately) from a third party," Davidson wrote.

Which is more likely? ®

Related stories

SCO knew Linux doesn't infringe - memo
Novell versus SCO will go to court
SCO watches Q2 revenue and loss shrink
Sun acquires oldSCO for $25m
Insiders reveal SCO's Monterey disarray

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Linux Foundation says many Linux admins and engineers are certifiable
Floats exam program to help IT employers lock up talent
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.