[linux-elitists] Torvalds to SCO: Negotiate What?

Larry M. Augustin lma@lmaugustin.com
Thu Sep 11 09:16:52 PDT 2003

>From http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/09/10/HNtorvaldssco_1.html :

The war of words between The SCO Group Inc. and the Linux community
escalated this week in a flurry of open letters, the latest from Linux
creator Linus Torvalds. 

In a letter dated Tuesday, the maintainer of the Linux kernel dismissed an
offer from SCO Chief Executive Officer Darl McBride to negotiate the dispute
with the open-source community. "There doesn't seem to be anything to
negotiate about. SCO has yet to show any infringing IP (intellectual
property) in the open-source domain," Torvalds wrote. 

Torvalds also had a few sarcastic words for the Lindon, Utah-based SCO,
noting that it is ironic that SCO acquired much of its capital from an
initial public offering based on a Linux business model. "We have to sadly
decline taking business model advice from a company that seems to have
squandered all of its money ... and now seems to play the U.S. legal system
like a lottery," he wrote 

SCO, which previously operated under the name Caldera Systems Inc., once
operated as a Linux distributor. The company has seen its status in the
open-source community plummet over the last year, however, as its anti-Linux
rhetoric has increased. In March, the company sued IBM Corp., claiming that
IBM illegally contributed code to Linux. Since then, SCO has alleged that
Linux contains a number of copyright and other intellectual property
violations, and it has demanded that Linux users pay it a $700 per processor
licensing fee to bring their systems in compliance. 

These charges led to lawsuits from both Red Hat Inc. and IBM, and appear to
have inspired a number of denial of service attacks on SCO's Web site.  

On Tuesday, McBride issued an open letter calling on the open-source
community to help the industry police crimes like the denial of service
attacks and to "follow the rules and procedures that govern mainstream
society," and said that his company is "open to ideas of working with the
Open Source community to monetize software technology and its underlying
intellectual property for all contributors."  

McBride's letter was quickly followed by a reply signed by open-source
advocates Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens blasting the SCO letter, calling it
a "farrago of falsehoods, half-truths, evasions, slanders, and

In an interview, Raymond dismissed McBride's offer of negotiation. "I don't
think there's any sincere offer in this letter. I think it's just
posturing," he said. Raymond reiterated Torvalds' demand that SCO back up
its claims by identifying the allegedly infringing Linux code. "Show us the
problem and we'll fix it," Raymond said. 

SCO has offered to reveal its code, but only under a nondisclosure agreement
(NDA), something that open-source developers like Torvalds and Raymond have
refused to sign, saying that such an agreement runs counter to open-source
principles and could restrict their ability to write open-source code. "We
can't have people signing NDAs because in the future they might be working
on the Linux kernel and, in general, signing NDAs is against our values,"
Raymond said. 

The Perens/Raymond letter can be found at

Torvalds' letter says: 

Open letter to Darl McBride -- please grow up.

Dear Darl,

Thank you so much for your letter.

We are happy that you agree that customers need to know that Open Source is
legal and stable, and we heartily agree with that sentence of your letter.
The others don't seem to make as much sense, but we find the dialogue

However, we have to sadly decline taking business model advice from a
company that seems to have squandered all its money (that it made off a
Linux IPO, I might add, since there's a nice bit of irony there), and now
seems to play the US legal system as a lottery. We in the Open Source group
continue to believe in technology as a way of driving customer interest and

Also, we find your references to a negotiating table somewhat confusing,
since there doesn't seem to be anything to negotiate about. SCO has yet to
show any infringing IP in the Open Source domain, but we wait with bated
breath for when you will actually care to inform us about what you are
blathering about. 

All of our source code is out in the open, and we welcome you point to any
particular piece you might disagree with.

Until then, please accept our gratitude for your submission,

Yours truly,

Linus Torvalds

Larry M. Augustin                       lma@lmaugustin.com
Tel: +1.650.966.1759                    Fax: +1.650.966.1753

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