Bruce Perens & Eric Raymond Respond to SCO's Open Letter
by Steve Mallett
offer to negotiate with us comes at the end of a farrago of
falsehoods, half-truths, evasions, slanders, and misrepresentations.
You must do better than this. We will not attempt to erect a
compromise with you on a foundation of dishonesty.
Your statement that Eric Raymond was "contacted by the perpetrator" of the DDoS attack on SCO begins the falsehoods. Mr. Raymond made very clear when volunteering his information and calling for the attack to cease that he was contacted by a third-party associate of the perpetrator and does not have the perpetrator's identity to reveal.
The DDoS attack ceased, and has not resumed. Mr. Raymond subsequently received emailed thanks for his action from Blake Stowell of SCO.
Your implication that the attacks are a continuing threat, and that
the President of the Open Source Initiative is continuing to shield
their perpetrator, is therefore not merely both false and slanderous,
but contradictory with SCO's own previous behavior. In all three
respects it is what we in the open-source community have come to
expect from SCO. If you are serious about negotiating with anyone,
rather than simply posturing for the media, such behavior must cease.
In fact, leaders of the open-source community have acted responsibly and swiftly to end the DDoS attacks -- just as we continue to act swiftly to address IP-contamination issues when they are aired in a clear and responsible manner. This history is open to public
inspection in the linux-kernel archives and elsewhere, with numerous
instances on record of Linus Torvalds and others refusing code in
circumstances where there is reason to believe it might be compromised by third-party IP claims.
As software developers, intellectual property is our stock in trade.
Whether we elect to trade our effort for money or rewards of a subtler
and more enduring nature, we are instinctively respectful of concerns
about IP, credit, and provenance. Our licenses (the GPL and others)
work with copyright law, not against it. We reject your attempt to
portray our community as a howling wilderness of IP thieves as a
baseless and destructive smear.
We in the open-source community are accountable. Our source code is public, exposed to scrutiny by anyone who wishes to contest its
ownership. Can SCO or any other closed-source vendor say the same? Who knows what IP violations, what stripped copyrights, what stolen
techniques lurk in the depths of closed-source code? Indeed, not only
SCO's past representations that it was merging GPLed Linux technology
into SCO Unix but Judge Debevoise's rulings in the last big lawsuit on
Unix IP rights suggest strongly that SCO should clean up its own act
before daring to accuse others of theft.
SCO taxes IBM and others with failing to provide warranties or
indemnify users against third-party IP claims, conveniently neglecting
to mention that the warranties and indemnities offered by SCO and
others such as Microsoft are carefully worded so that the vendor's
liability is limited to the software purchase price, They thus offer
no actual shield against liability claims or damages. They are, in a
word, shams designed to lull users into a false sense of security -- a
form of sham which we believe you press on us solely as posturing,
rather than out of any genuine concern for users. We in the
open-source community, and our corporate allies, refuse to play that
You invite us to negotiate, but you have persistently refused to state
a negotiable claim. You have made allegations of a million lines of
copied code which are mathematically impossible given the known,
publicly accessible history of Linux development. You have uttered
vast conspiracy theories which fail to be vague only where they are
slanderous and insulting. You have already been compelled to abandon
major claims -- such as the ownership of SMP technology alleged in
your original complaint against IBM -- on showings that they were
false, and that you knew or should have known them to be false,
Accordingly, we of the open-source community do not concede that there is anything to negotiate. Linux is our work and our lawful property,
the distillation of twelve years of hard work, idealism, creativity,
tears, joy, and sweat by hundreds of thousands of cooperating hackers
all over the world. It is not yours, has never been yours, and will
never be yours.
If you wish to make a respectable case for contamination, show us the code. Disclose the overlaps. Specify file by file and line by line
which code you believe to be infringing, and on what grounds. We will
swiftly meet our responsibilities under law, either removing the
allegedly infringing code or establishing that it entered Linux by
routes which foreclose proprietary claims.