Yarro Admits Lineo Infringed GPL Code --DiDio: "All Roads Lead to Canopy"

Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 11:42 PM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

John Markoff at the NYTimes is reporting that Lineo, a former Canopy Group company, sued by Monte Vista for copyright infringement, has settled the case, and that Ralph Yarro admits Lineo infringed Monte Vista's copyrights. And here is the kicker: the code was GPL code.

While the court docs are sealed, the charge by Monte Vista (could there be two companies named Monte Vista?) was that their GPL code was taken by Lineo and used after they stripped off its copyright notices.

Gulp. Think IBM might be interested in this? SGI? No wonder Red Hat has asked to see every bit of source code SCO has ever distributed.

I wonder if those SCO/Canopy dudes thought it'd be safe to say Linus accepts stolen code because they do it themselves, and GPL code at that. Guilty folks generally, in my experience, believe the whole world does what they do. Liars, for example, think everyone else lies too.

Yarro blames it on outsourcing. Urm. Doesn't anybody in his companies ever actually look at their own code? According to this SEC filing, Lineo was a combined proprietary/Linux operation. I thought proprietary companies had this superior fail-safe system to make sure no stolen code ever got in, no? I wonder if Lineo offered its customers indemnification? -- All right. Heh heh. I couldn't help myself.

It seems Lineo may have pleaded innocent infringement. I didn't know Canopy types acknowledged such a thing existed. Somebody call SGI. Here's a bit of the Times article:

"Lineo was sued last year by Monte Vista, a maker of software for specialized computers used in consumer and industrial applications that is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. The Monte Vista executives said they had been notified that software their programmers had written and licensed under the GNU General Public License - the license that governs companies that distribute Linux software - had appeared, with copyrights removed, in Lineo's software. The license, which allows for the free distribution of software, still requires that the copyright notices be retained. . . .

"Canopy is now SCO's largest shareholder, with two seats on the company's board, and has played an important role, analysts say, in shaping SCO's legal strategy. 'All roads lead to Canopy,' said Laura Didio, a computer industry analyst at the Yankee Group. 'They've been pretty clever in the way they've played this.'"

Clever how? Can't this gal get one thing right? They've just been caught with their hand in the GPL cookie jar, and she says they are clever? I hope this one time she is right, in the sense that I hope all roads lead to Canopy, if you catch my drift. Yarro is quoted extensively in the article, and he doesn't sound so happy with the Lineo story or with SCO:

"'This story may speak more to the dangers and cautions of working with these outsourced companies,' said Ralph Yarro, chief executive of the Canopy Group. He added that when the incident took place Canopy was no longer the majority shareholder of Lineo. . . .

"He acknowledged that the Lineo suit did in certain ways parallel issues in the dispute between SCO and I.B.M. 'SCO picked a big fight and it flowed over to the Linux environment and we found ourselves in an awkward position,' he said. . . . Mr. Yarro said: 'I know I've been painted in a rough light. I hope that our companies are our legacy and not our lawsuits.'"

If this doesn't beat all, as my dear Grandma used to say. Think it sounds like SCO execs might be asked to walk the plank soon? And that Canopy would like to distance itself from the lawsuit? If nothing else, we understand now why Utah has been a whole lot quieter than normal.

Leaping lizards, guys, this feels huge. And by the way, do you suppose they just found out that the GPL is valid and stands up in a court of law?