Kernel Coder Puts SCO on Notice of Copyright Infringement

Sunday, June 15 2003 @ 07:26 PM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

Kernel Coder Puts SCO on Notice of Copyright Infringement
Here Comes the GPL!

The Inquirer is reporting that a kernel developer, currently anonymous, has sent a notice of copyright infringement to SCO by email. As the article correctly points out, there are hundreds of others who have also contributed to the kernel and thus would have similar claims.

On Friday, I mused aloud:

" GPL or Copyright Law -- Pick Your Poison SCO has been saying that they didn't know they were releasing under the GPL. What if that were true? Then it would mean that they never had the right to release a Linux product in the first place. If the GPL is found invalid, then you revert to copyright law.

"Now here is the detail that just occured to me: Linus Torvalds isn't the only individual who has contributed to the kernel and his policy is, or at least it was the last time I looked, that each contributor retains his or her own copyright rights, even though the kernel itself is under GPL v2. So... if SCO released a product outside of the GPL, then couldn't any of the copyright holders bring an action for copyright infringement against SCO?"

Now someone, evidently in Germany, has had the same thought and is doing it.

The email points out that Linux is still available from SCO's web site. Then the coder points out that as co-author and copyright owner of several parts of the kernel, he released his code solely under the GPL and that SCO is claiming that in that file is proprietary code belonging to them, so their continuing to offer that file is a violation of the terms of the GPL:

"I've granted everyone the right to sell, distribute and use my work under the condition that they obey the restriction of the GPL. The GPL requires that a work that is based on a works that is licensed under the GPL must be put under the GPL. I've never authorized any other use of my work.

"This means that your distribution of the above given file, and any sale of OpenLinux 3.1.1, is not authorized by me and infringes my copyright."

In addition to money damages, the emailer reserves the right to sue the German branch of SCO and suggests as an alternative:

"As an alternative, I'll abstain from suing you for copyright infringement if you drop your claims that the source in linux-2.4.13-21D.src.rpm infringes your copyright, for example by putting the part that you claim copyright on under the GPL. The exact details would have to be discussed."

On June 5th, I posted some other places I was able to find SCO's OpenLinux for sale, including at Tucows,, even from Shop Caldera.

As is not uncommon, SCO too seems to have underestimated the GPL. However, because they are such strong believers in the sanctity of intellectual property rights, no doubt SCO will immediately comply. I'm sure they have no desire to infringe on anyone's rights under copyright while holding that holy banner so high in their own IP Crusade. If not, I'd say the GPL may be heading to court.