(Yahoo News) SCO’s own evidence undercuts claims that Linux violates the company’s intellectual property, according to two separate analyses by open source advocates released this week.
“SCO is right where it doesn’t matter and wrong where it does,” said Eric Raymond, in a paper posted to the Web, “SCO’s Evidence: This Smoking Gun Fizzles Out.” Some of Linux code was copied from old Unix (news – web sites) versions, but “the relevant ancestral code was released in open source” before it was included in Linux. Much of it was released by SCO itself, while it was still doing business as Caldera, Raymond said.
The analyses are based on information released by SCO on Monday at its SCO Forum conference in Las Vegas. SCO made a presentation including slides containing specific examples of source code from Linux that SCO claims is its intellectual property. In addition to Raymond, another Linux advocate, Bruce Perens, obtained copies of the slides and posted his own analysis, separate from Raymond’s, (“Analysis of SCO’s Las Vegas Slide Show.”), reaching similar conclusions.
Raymond is president of the Open Source Initiative, an open source advocacy group. He is author of “The Cathedral and The Bazaar,” an early influential manifesto for the open source movement. Perens is an open source consultant who was formerly strategic advisor on open source initiatives at Hewlett-Packard and senior systems programmer at Pixar Animation Studios.
SCO said it would comment on the analyses on Thursday or Friday.
SCO sued IBM in March, claiming that IBM included proprietary Unix source code in Linux, and later SCO warned Linux users that they, too, could be subject to intellectual property lawsuits if they failed to obtain legitimate licenses from SCO. SCO introduced a $699 license this month for Linux users.
Code controlling memory allocation was among the code that SCO says infringes on its intellectual property. However, the code derives from a version of Unix called Fifth Edition, released in 1974, and was likely copied from a 1979 version of Unix called 32V, rather than from System V, Raymond says. That version of Unix was released into open source in January, 2002, along with the 5th Edition of Unix, the 6th Edition, and Version 7. That release was made by SCO, when it was still doing business as Caldera.
Moreover, the code appears in Linux versions for the Itanium processor, not for the commonplace 32-bit used in most PCs and Intel servers today, Raymond said. “This means that upwards of 90% of all Linux users, including the corporate users SCO is now shaking down for license fees, are running binary Linux distributions that do not include this code,” Raymond said (emphasis his).
The copyright on the Linux file is by Silicon Graphics, which will not help SCO’s contention that IBM stole the code, Raymond said. And the code was removed from Linux in Version 2.5, in June 2003, after being introduced in Version 2.4.19. It was removed “not because of copyright issues but because it was an ugly kluge,” Raymond writes.
Perens said that the analysis of the SCO slides are particularly damaging to SCO because SCO chose the code to release, and was likely to put its best examples forward. “If this is the best SCO has to offer, they will lose,” Perens says.
Taking note of one particular slide in the SCO presentation, Perens writes: “Slide 15 shows purports to show ‘Obfuscated Copying’ from Unix System V into Linux. SCO further obfuscated the code on this slide by switching it to a Greek font, but that was easily undone. It’s entertaining that the SCO folks had no clue that the font-change could be so easily reversed. I’m glad they don’t work on my computer security :-)”
The code on that slide is part of Berkeley Packet Filter technology, which is covered by the BSD open source license and copied into Unix System V in 1996, Perens said.
Perens belittled SCO’s claims that it used sophisticated pattern-recognition techniques to identify offending Linux code. “I was able to determine the origin of BPF after a few minutes of web searches on google.com . Why couldn’t a ‘pattern-recognition team” do the same?’ It’s difficult to believe they simply didn’t bother to check. It’s also likely that SCO dropped attribution of the Lab’s copyright from the System V copy of the BPF source code, or the team would have known,” he says.
SCO has claimed that Linux developers obfuscated the code they stole, changing particular elements to make the code look original (like filing the serial numbers off of stolen property). But Perens says that the Linux version of BPF is not an obfuscation, instead rather a clean-room re-implementation of BPF using publicly available documentation – and even if Linux developers had simply copied the code, rather than re-implement it, it would have been legal, because it is covered by the BSD license, Perens said.
Like Raymond, Perens commented on slides containing memory allocation code which SCO alleges was copied from Unix into Linux: “These slides have several C syntax errors and would never compile. So, they don’t quite represent any source code in Linux. But we’ve found the code they refer to. It is included in code copyrighted by AT&T and twice released as Open Source under the BSD license: once by Unix Systems Labs (a division of AT&T), and again by Caldera, the company that now calls itself SCO. The Linux developers have a legal right to make use of the code under that license. No violation of SCO’s copyright or trade secrets is taking place.
“The oldest version of this code we’ve found so far is in Donald Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming, published in 1968. Knuth was probably working from earlier research papers…. The implementation shown in the slides was written by Dennis M. Ritchie or Ken Thompson at AT&T, in 1973.” Ritchie and Thompson invented Unix.
SCO also claims to own Journaling File System (JFS). The Linux version of JFS was in fact originally developed for OS/2 by IBM and later ported to both Unix System 5 and Linux, Perens said.
“SCO’s contention is that copyrighted software can never be separated, that any code created by a Unix licensee that ever touches SCO Unix or is even loosely based on Unix is entirely SCO’s from that moment on, and can never be used for another purpose by its creator without authorization from SCO. SCO’s contention goes against any reasonable understanding of the boundaries of intellectual property. It’s unlikely that it would survive a court room.
“SCO’s responses to this document are We own Unix and would know what it looks like, and It’s his word against ours. I’m not, however, asking you to rely on my word. I’ve presented you with links to the evidence, most of which is available at web sites not under my control. Please examine it and make your own conclusion.”