[linux-elitists] [mds@hsmds2.prnewswire.com: SCO Suspends Distribution of Linux Pending Intellectual Property...]

Martin Pool mbp@samba.org
Sun May 18 19:06:21 PDT 2003

On 15 May 2003, Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Martin Pool (mbp@sourcefrog.net):
> > I (idly) wonder if there are grounds for a libel or defamation suit in
> > Australia, given that they are damaging the reputation of Linux
> > developers without substantiation.
> You know, defamation laws are much more draconian in some jurisdictions
> than others.  The UK version of libel law is noted for being such.
> Perhaps Alan Cox?

Australia also has laws that apparently make it relatively easy to sue
for libel.  (Arguably at the cost of free speech, but that's a whole
other thread.)  SCO has published press releases from their Australian

Unfortunately suing for libel is a pretty expensive hobby, although
potentially lucrative if you win.

IANAL, but I understand you would need

 - A public reputation that has been damaged by SCO's statement.
 - A "stake" of about USD30k or more.
 - To show that the SCO statements were not true, or made in the
   reasonable belief that they were true, and that they are not "fair

This is expensive because defamation suits can only be heard by the
Supreme Court, although of course you may get an apology or settlement
before reaching court. 

I think there is a reasonable chance that these conditions pertain,
except for the financial one. 

SCO certainly seem to have been trying to damage Linux's reputation,
and by association the professional reputation of people or companies
who work with it.  *Even if* there is SCO source code in Linux, then
other statements such as Linux being a bicycle are potentially
defamatory, although possibly protected as fair comment.  It might be
easier with statements directly attacking the competence or integrity
of the developers.

Is there any ex-.com Australian or British Linux programmer who would
like to speculatively invest tens of thousands in suing SCO?

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