SCO Group CEO Darl McBride opened a new front in the company's intellectual property war against the Linux and open source communities on Monday when he identified 65 copyrighted application binary interfaces (ABIs) he said are copied from SCO's System V Unix code to Linux.
McBride said that SCO's copyrights are being violated under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). He added that SCO has sent out a second round of letters to commercial Linux users notifying them of the potential DMCA violations.
"The Unix ABIs were never intended or authorized for unrestricted use or distribution under the GPL in Linux," the letter reads. "As the copyright holder, SCO has never granted such permission. Nevertheless, many of the ABIs contained in Linux, and improperly distributed under the GPL, are direct copies of our Unix copyrighted software code. Any part of any Linux file that includes the copyrighted binary interface code must be removed."
Meanwhile, Linux author Linus Torvalds told the New York Times that some of the files in question were written by him in the original Linux distribution. "In short, for the files where I personally checked the history, I can definitely say that those files were trivially written by me personally, with no copying from any Unix code, ever. I can show, and SCO should have been able to see, that the list they show clearly shows original work, not copied," Torvalds told the Times.
McBride, meanwhile, reiterated the options SCO has outlined for commercial Linux users: cease and desist use of Linux; keep using Linux and pay SCO up to $1,399 per CPU for a Unix license; or continue using Linux and ultimately face litigation.
SCO posted the files in question on its Web site yesterday afternoon and McBride said that removal of the files would damage the Linux kernel.
"One challenge of removing those header files is that they touch almost every application written in Linux," McBride said. "Removing those would create incompatibilities."
McBride also said yesterday that SCO will follow up on its promise to sue a large commercial Linux user, based on potential DMCA violations, within the next 60 days.
SCO Group is also sending a letter to its Unix licensees asking them to certify within 30 days that they are not running Linux binary code compiled from a copyrighted ABI, or else SCO would terminate their Unix licenses.
McBride said the SCO Group has not signed up any large commercial users to Unix licenses -- 'large' defined as a company with "thousands of CPUs" in question. He did say several smaller Fortune 1000 companies have either signed up for Unix licenses, or agreed to stop using Linux. Another group, McBride said, would wait for a courtroom resolution to the matter.
"We see a flaw in the open source process where our stuff is seeping in there," McBride said. "We see where our IP is being misappropriated."