Inspired by the RIAA, SCO prepares Linux crusade

SCO is to embark on a RIAA-style crusade against Linux end users, the company announced today, in order to make consumers "fully aware" of its copyrights.

Giving a press conference following the news that it had lodged a lawsuit, for the first time, against a Linux user the car parts company AutoZone, the company's CEO Darl McBride drew several comparisons with the American music industry's trade body decision to sue individuals for downloading copyrighted MP3s.

Before the RIAA started suing individuals, McBride argued, "end users had not considered their use." Now he says, SCO "will take and continue to take" legal action against end users of Linux, until people recognise that the Linux operating system contains copyrighted material that SCO owns.

The company was going to "re-educate" people about its rights and it expected to see the same fall in illegal usage that the RIAA has seen after its actions.

At the same time, McBride announced the company had lodged a second lawsuit in Oakland against DaimlerChrysler for "failure to respond" to SCO's demand that the company provide a certificate of compliance with its software licensing agreement. McBride later admitted that the DaimlerChrysler suit was based on the company's contribution toward Linux and that it was continuing to work on the open-source OS. "They need to confirm one way or another," McBride stated.

In an earlier statement about the group's slipping financial results, the company's philosophy and future plans were made starkly clear. In response to falling revenues, only one answer was forthcoming - increased enforcement of copyrights and IP property rights. SCO has caught the legal bug and it is making it quite clear that anyone who even touches Linux is fair game in its eyes. Why DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone? The company refused to say exactly, only that they were "at the head of the class of end users" that the company was after. It also refused to discuss any future lawsuits, any future targets, whether they would be in the US, Europe or Asia, who the witnesses would be, or what the exact legal arguments were.

McBride said SCO has built a war chest and was going after the "significant" financial value of its intellectual property rights. In response to the in-depth refutation of SCO's copyright claims, posted over the Internet, McBride said he would not get into the "x,y,z" of the case and that it was "best left to the courtroom" to decide who was right and who was wrong. Of course, it doesn't help that the comparison with the RIAA that SCO is putting so much store in, is fundamentally flawed. No one disagreed that the music tracks being shared over the Internet were someone else's copyright. Plus the RIAA had the backing of not only the entire music industry but also most of the artists themselves.

SCO on the other hand has no friends but itself - it is even suing its own customers - and there is nothing like a consensus over SCO's rights. It is gambling its entire future on being able to get companies to back down. Which may seem extremely stupid until you consider that the company really is no more than the value of its licences anymore.

"We are not particularly thrilled at having to sue anyone but this is an educational process and we expect we will come to a resolution with end users," said McBride.

Whether that resolution is the one he expects to reach, only time, and some expensive court battles, will tell.

This story, "Inspired by the RIAA, SCO prepares Linux crusade" was originally published by

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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