Linux wins the SCO vs Novell case
Six-year battle won by lawyers, and Novell
The six-year-long Novell-SCO case is over - the judge ruled that Novell did indeed own Unix
patents copyrights which SCO failed to license properly and therefore the case is closed.
Of course this case has closed before, but this really does seem like the end of the line.
Judge Ted Stewart said: "The jury could have rejected the testimony of SCO's witnesses for a number of reasons, including their lack of involvement in drafting the APA, the fact that there was little testimony on any actual discussions concerning the transfer of copyrights, or that many of the witnesses had a financial interest in the litigation."
SCO became little more than a source of lawyers' letters and was seen by many as the arch nemesis to the development of Linux.
There are other cases pending, including one against IBM, but they depended on the outcome of the Novell litigation.
The case began in 2004 over a transfer agreement made in 1995.
And finally, thanks to Groklaw, its volunteers and Pamela Jones, whose tireless efforts to follow and explain the twists and turns of this case showed what an obsessive compulsive with a blog can do and helped make the case understandable for those of us happy enough not to be lawyers. ®
It's over at last
One dark night, in an IT graveyard, somewhere not too far from here... An innocent IT worker is picking his way amongst the boxes, rolls of Cat 5 cable, dead servers kept for possible spare parts, old 486 boxes that really were going to be turned into fishtanks, honest, like that website said... Our IT worker is down here amongst the dust, the debris and the corpses of computers past, looking for a spare laptop hard drive.
The air-conditioning fans hum low in the background. An owl screeches. Our hapless geek turns, startled by the unexpected noise. Bathed in the moonlight through the window is a large packing crate. Unopened. Ooooh! Shinies! Toys to play with, and he's safely on his own to play with them.
Quickly he whips out his trusty belt-mounted Leatherman and levers up the lid. Tough this one. Good grief, it's nailed down, not stapled. With a lurch and a creak, the lid gives. His hand catches on a nail. A drop of blood falls into the case. At the bottom of which is... A pile of soil? What? Who mailed dirt to us? It's addressed from Lindon, in Utah, wherever that is.
Smoke rises, it fizzes.
Hang on! This isn't a packing crate. It's a... A... Coffin!
From the grave it rises. Rises again. The McBride of Dracula!
It grabs our poor friend, drains every last drop of the nutritious caffeiney blood from his body, and stalks off into the world in search of some lawyers...
[Hmmmm - I wonder if I've had too much coffee this morning...]
@Fraser: Unix Copyrights.
The background to this is very simple indeed.
The Santa Cruz Organisation (SCO) wanted to buy the whole Unix business from Novell, but couldn't afford it. So instead, they bought the distribution rights. They sold packaged Unix, and were supposed to pass all the proceeds to Novell. Novell would then return 5% of that as a fee for doing the boring selling stuff.
Caldera - a Linux distributor - bought that business from SCO and then - this is the confusing bit - renamed themselves "The SCO Group". These two companies have both gone by the name "SCO", and that confusion appears to be deliberate.
NewSCO (formerly Caldera) then decided that they owned all the Unix copyrights (the ones OldSCO couldn't afford and never bought). they also decided that, as Linux had grown up so quickly, it *must* have stolen Unix code in it. This is the basis on which they tred to sue world + dog.
The two prongs of defence used so far are :-
1) Neither incarnation of SCO has ever owned the copyrights that NewSCO have been suing people over.
2) There is no stolen code in Linux anyway.
The SCO v Novell case is mostly about the first of these. Judge Kimball ruled a long time ago that SCO didn't own the copyrights it claimed, but the Court of Appeals said that a jury should have decided that. A jury did decide that - and it decided that SCO has never owned said copyrights.
The SCO v IBM case is primarily about the second of these items - that there is no stolen Unix code in Linux. It is somewhat mooted, though, because even if there were any, SCO has no standing to sue anyone anyway, because it doesn't own the code it claims to be trying to "protect".
There are further defences. An important one is that SCO was a Linux distributor, and distributed the alleged infringing code even some years after starting its lawsuits. Indeed, Caldera was the company that put most of it into Linux in the first place. They released this under the GPL - and therefore everyone is granted a licence to use and redistribute all this code anyway.
This last is important because the FUDsters are already firing up the talk of what might happen should Someone Evil(tm) buy Novell. the answer is simple - nothing. Novell have deliberately distributed all of this code under GPL, and that cannot be revoked just because the bad guys buy up the source.
"Obsessive compulsive" ??
Sorry Vultures, but on this issue you can't even give credit graciously.
It seems someone still recalls the rankles when El Reg was sniping at PJ and Groklaw, and in particular the subsequent back-down when Groklaw pushed back - and was vindicated.
Bridge --> Construct -->> Traverse, please!