SCO, source code and intellectual property

Posted on Oct 15, 2003


I work for Sun Microsystems Ltd. and previously I worked for SCO Ltd.

SCO recently provided a presentation that details their view of the licensing of UNIX and UnixWare, including information about code that has been copied into Linux.

The contract extracts are exactly that - extracts. It's difficult to draw full conclusions without the full contract. The extracts seem to indicate that SCO owns the pieces that it asserts to own.

The source code extracts are also interesting. The previously indicated malloc code has been discussed before - it does look as though it has been copied. Page 15 of the presentation includes another code fragment that SCO claim is proof that “Obfuscated System V Code Has Been Copied Into Linux Kernel Releases 2.4x and 1.5x”. Maybe I'm out of touch, but the code looks as though it comes from the Berkeley Packet Filter (bpf). If that is correct, what is the point of showing this code? bpf has a liberal license - it wouldn't appear to be covered by a SCO license.

Most of the other claims are based on some idea of intellectual property, with indications of supporting case law. As an engineer, this is perhaps the most worrying part. If this aspect of the case is succesful, it will make it harder to use experienced gained with one employer to do an effective job anywhere else. Is that contrary to the idea that experienced people are useful?