SCO Claims 2002 UNIX Source Release Was "Non-Commercial"

by Don Marti

Blake Stowell, Director of Public Relations for The SCO Group, said this week that SCO's 2002 letter that released old UNIX versions did not offer free, open-source terms but included a non-commercial use restriction. The company then was called Caldera.

"I do not dispute that this letter was distributed and that Caldera at the time allowed 16-bit, non-UNIX System V code to be contributed to Linux for non-commercial use", Stowell wrote in an e-mail interview.

The text of the letter, sent January 23, 2002 by Bill Broderick, Director of Licensing Services for Caldera, in fact makes no mention of "non-commercial use" restrictions, does not include the words "non-commercial use" anywhere and specifically mentions "32-bit 32V Unix" as well as the 16-bit versions.

When asked for clarification on the "non-commercial" assertion, Stowell replied by e-mail, "That is what I was told by Chris Sontag." Sontag is SCO's Senior Vice President and General Manager of the SCOsource division and is responsible for controversial license demands from Linux users based on SCO's claim that Linux contains code illegally copied from SCO.

SCO CEO Darl McBride included examples of allegedly infringing code in a presentation at this week's SCO Forum and promptly triggered a flurry of UNIX and Linux research on such sites as Linux Weekly News, as users attempt to trace the code's origin.

UNIX developer and author Eric Raymond, who formerly maintained an exhaustive buyers' guide covering proprietary UNIX versions for x86 PCs and writes that he has access to both open-source and proprietary UNIX source code, has traced the code McBride presented specifically to the 32V version of UNIX, which is covered by the Broderick letter.

Don Marti is Editor in Chief of Linux Journal.

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