BSD folks position on GPL, Novell, IBM, SCO, and MS...

Mike Hauber mchauber at
Tue Nov 28 11:14:07 PST 2006

On Tuesday 28 November 2006 07:08, Jan Husar proclaimed:
> On 11/28/06, Dag-Erling Smørgrav <des at> wrote:
> > Mike Hauber <mchauber at> writes:
> > > I was just wondering what the general consensus was on the GPL, Linux
> > > in general, SCOs lawsuit, Sun's open sourcing, IBMs contributions to
> > > Linux, Novell's contributions, Novell's deal with MS and how this
> > > really affects SuSe (there's a lot of hype on that and I literally
> > > don't know what to believe at this point).
> >
> > Why should we care?
> >
> > The SCO lawsuits are doubly irrelevant: firstly because SCO is not
> > going to win, secondly because BSD is immune by virtue of the 1994
> > settlement with USL.

I don't think the USL settlement matters to SCO.  After all, Linux is immune 
by virtue of the GPL (in addition to SCOs claims being fraudulent), but that 
didn't stop SCO from making fools of themselves.  It's not Darl and company 
specifically that I'm worried about.  It's other companies that can come 
along and pull the same stunts.  How long would it take before prospective 
customers get weary of the idea of open source as a whole if litigation 
claims (fraudulent as they may be) continue?

> >
> > As for the Novell-MS deal, I don't see how it affects BSD at all.
> You are right, there is no direct affect on BSD however software
> patents is in issue no matter if it's GPL or BSD mostly in United
> States, in EU we are still fighting the patent problematics.
> Today is voting in ITRE (Information, Technology, Research and Energy)
> committee within European Parliament about IPRED (Intelectual Property
> Rights Enforcment Directive) which basicly means, criminalization of
> abusing of patents, trademarks and copyright (e.g. sentece to jail,
> freeze of accounts and so on)

This was pretty much my concern as far as OSS goes.  If SCO actually succeeded 
with their claims (which I know they won't), or if other SCOs come along, I 
don't think the only target would be the GPL.  I see patent issues becoming a 
real problem not just for the GPL side of things but the BSDs as well (my 
stance, of course, is that it shouldn't because patents lately have been 
blindly awarded and seemingly requested for the purpose of fraudulent 
lawsuits).  If companies are scrambling for patents in order to bring 
litigation or to protect themselves from litigation via counter-suits, I 
doubt that when the fingers start pointing, the GPLd or BSDd code would be 
excluded...  In fact, I tend to think they would be a preferred target just 
because it's open source, and we are by far the biggest threat that 
proprietary companies have.

I see this basically as a threat to everyone, not just the few it's starting 
out with.  That's why I asked, and I hadn't really heard much at all from the 
BSD side of the aisle.

What if Sun pulls a SCO with their Java?  If IBM pulls a SCO with their 
contributions?  If Novell pulls a SCO with their contributions?  I would like 
to think that their intentions are honest, but after SCO, and then MSs very 
weird deal with Novell, who knows?  (and by the way, is IBM working with the 
BSD community as well?  I hadn't read anything on that, and would be 
interested to know more if they are).

Although my preference is the BSD license, I'm very much a fan of OSS, whether 
it be licensed under the BSD or GPL, and I'm just concerned about whether or 
not this could escalate into a trend against OS code in general.

Appreciate your inputs.  Thanks,


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