[linux-elitists] Trying to give SCO Money, Part II: Success (sort of)

M. Drew Streib dtype@dtype.org
Mon Sep 15 15:55:04 PDT 2003


A followup to my first letter, in which I tried to give SCO Money...

"Trying to Give SCO Money, Part II: Success (sort of)"
by Drew

To recap, about a week and a half ago, I posted a short letter describing
some woes in trying to give the Santa Cruz Operation money for a Linux
license. After all, who wants to be in violation of copyright?

(To placate one well-placed criticism of that letter, and to correct
a light statement of mine that my code was without copyright: Linux is
not without copyright. It is copyrighted under the GNU General Public
License, which is very different than the public domain.)

Since that letter, I have seen news stories that SCO has announced
_available_ licensing plans to the general public. Hot Damn! This is my
chance to get me some of them licenses. Roughly a week after those news
stories, I had still not received a phone call, so today it was time to
followup with sales.

A quick call indicated that indeed, SCO was ready to transfer me to a
sales rep for the licenses, and in fact, the person was extremely kind
and helpful. I had a few questions regarding my specific business needs,
and how those would be addresed in the license, which s/he was willing
to answer on the phone, or email to me after checking with the product
manager/lawyers. 

Here's the kicker.

Sales reps are currently authorized to take your credit card information
and sell you a 'license' over the phone, but are apparently unable to
actually send you a copy of said license.

It seems odd that I should be able to 'sign' something over the phone
without having actually had theh opportunity to view it. If the license
itself is a grant, and not the contract, then shouldn't the terms of the
contract itself require that I at least know what I'm getting in return
for my hard-earned (sometimes) bucks?

The sales rep was very helpful, and obviously had some notes which
produced answers to many of my questions, but his phone assurances
that I was in the clear (after a license purchase, of course) cannot
be misrepresented as legal assurance. For all I know the license states
that my grant is invalid if I spend more than an hour a day watching TV,
or ever have eggs for breakfast (stupid examples to make a point).

To repeat, because it is important:

Can I be bound to a contract that I'm not allowed to see? If this isn't
a contract, can I be sold a license under whose terms I am liable, but
whose terms are hidden from me?

(I don't wish this particular sales rep harm, as s/he was actually very
understanding of my reluctance to sign a contract I wasn't allowed to
view. If SCO doesn't blacklist me within their sales department, maybe
I'll even get a helpful callback.)

SCO appears to be willing to sell me an item for which my only knowledge
is some non-binding assurances from a sales rep and a line on my credit
card bill that says "Linux license".

I want to give SCO money (at least in this academic endeavour), but not
this way.

It almost seems warranted to start up a lawsuit on the premise
that SCO is taking money for misrepresented claims of what they grant
in return (completely independent of the issue of whether or not they
have rights to the code to begin with). I'm not a lawyer (as is often
painfully clear in some of the things I say), but even _if_ SCO is 
100% right on their copyright claims, this deceptive and secretive
sales method is unethical at best.

Anyway. I'll get my answers soon, and maybe they'll even send me a copy
of the license. I'm not holding my breath.

-drew, probably gonna get sued by SCO eventually for this, streib

-- 
M. Drew Streib <dtype@dtype.org> 
Independent Rambler, Software/Standards/Freedom/Law -- http://dtype.org/
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