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Erasing Linux FUD … is it too late?

Aug 20, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* General counsel for Open Source Initiative says users should not fear SCO-IBM suit

The Open Source Development Lab sought to quell any fear, uncertainty and/or doubt in the minds of Linux users last week, as The SCO Group challenged that the General Public License – the raison d’être for Linux and many other open source programs – is invalid.

In an open letter, written by Lawrence Rosen, general counsel for the Open Source Initiative (an organization that reviews open source licenses), several of SCO’s assertions are addressed, and put into context for Linux users.

Rosen states it is unlikely that SCO’s lawsuit against IBM will have much impact on organizations using Linux. He says that any ramifications from the SCO vs. IBM case would probably not affect Linux or the open source community directly.

“The SCO vs. IBM lawsuit is not likely to have any real impact on Linux users,” Rosen writes. “It is a battle of big companies that will be resolved in due course by the court, perhaps by the payment of money.”

Rosen also addresses the issue of patents. Answering the self-posed question “Can SCO demand license fees to use Linux?” Rosen writes: “Sure. But just because someone demands money doesn’t mean you should pay them. SCO has sued only IBM, remember, not you, and is demanding at least $1 billion in economic damages. IBM didn’t reach for its checkbook yet. Why should you?”

Rosen makes valid points, and the fact that IBM, HP, and other large Linux server vendors are publicly brushing off the SCO assertions may be heartening to recently filled out Linux server purchase orders with these firms.

SCO may never get its $1 billion out of IBM, or be granted the right by a court to collect licenses from Linux users, but the FUD effect from the suit is becoming real. It was reported in the media last week that a large Fortune 100 company using Linux has bought a license from SCO to avoid any possible fallout from a future court ruling. Will others follow?