[linux-elitists] Feedback Argument

Gilad Ben-Yossef gilad@benyossef.com
Sun May 18 01:47:38 PDT 2003

Mister Bad wrote:
> So, I'm reading more stuff about the SCO doohickey, and I'm wondering
> about the feedback argument.
> This argument says that, OK, assume that some code from Unix got
> into Linux. But, because SCO was a Linux distributor, they waived any
> IP rights they had by redistributing the supposedly infringing
> software under the GPL.
> In other words:
>    +----------------+  infringing
>    | SCO      Unix ------------------> Linux kernel
>    |                |     GPL             |
>    |         Linux <----------------------+
>    |           |    |     GPL
>    |           +---------------------> World
>    +----------------+
> In this scenario, the Unix code went out to the Linux kernel, came
> back in as GPL'd source, and went out as GPL'd source and binaries.
> It's obvious from the terms of the GPL that SCO grants Free use of
> Linux to World of any modifications it made to Linux. But I'm not sure
> I get why that would affect any infringing code that was in Linux when
> SCO got it.
> I guess the analogy would be picking the mailman's pocket and putting
> his wallet in a package that you then send to your friend. Since the
> mailman hands over the goods to you friend, he's lost his claim to the
> wallet. Seems fishy to me.
> Am I missing something here? Or does this argument lack merit?

IANAL(TG!) but you can say something like this:

Either SCO *knew* that the IP in question was contained in the Linux 
kernel and still shipped that. It means it shipped that IP knowingly, 
without regard on how it got there. Game Over.

Alternativly, SCO did not in fact know that it had it's own IP in the 
Linux kernel. But then, if SCO - the owner of said IP and a Linux 
distributer did not know this, no one else can be expected to be aware 
of the fact and so any copyright infrigment that may have happened was 
unintentional and in good faith. This doesn't protect IBM if it put the 
offending IP in there, but it does protect anyone else - which very much 
"contains" the case against anyone else except IBM.

Or not. As I said: IANAL(TG!).


More information about the linux-elitists mailing list