Comments on "Putting open source on trial"

Posted by Eric Fri, 27 Jun 2003 00:00:00 GMT

Charles Cooper writes: "After examining earlier this month what SCO claims is offending code, however, I think the open-source community better prepare itself to face tough criticism of its practices and ethics." Charles Cooper bases this charge on Linus' unwillingness to read other people's patents, and suggests that Linus also ignores other people's copyrights. Unfortunately, this generalization badly weakens an otherwise interesting article.

Linus On Patents

Cooper quotes Linus on software patents:

"It is a fact that I do not encourage engineers to look up patent information, for example," Torvalds said. "You ask any lawyer about it, and they will tell you that I'm right. It's not the job of an engineer to try to find out about (others') patents, since that just taints them."

Unfortunately, Linus may be right: Letting engineers read patents is a legal minefield. Michael J. Radwin writes about his experience:

Some companies, such as my former employer, are really concerned about this. Not only do they discourage discussing patents at all over email, they run HTTP proxy servers and completely cut off access to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website from within the corporate intranet.

The Mysterious Duplication

Charles Cooper continues:

I'd love to get his reaction after SCO produces documents with keystroke-by-keystroke copies of proprietary IP--including typographical mistakes--which subsequently made its way into the open-source community. (SCO claims the IP was filched from its own UnixWare, though the accuracy of the claim can't yet be proven or refuted.)

Let's be honest here: Until SCO produces those documents, Linus can't do a thing. He's being charged with all sorts of wrongdoing, but zero public evidence has been provided. (And it's really easy for SCO to find all duplications between UnixWare and Linux, and report them to Linus.)

Related Links

Ian Lance Taylor's Visit to SCO.

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