No 'smoking gun' in Linux code

  • Javier

    Javier - 2005-07-15

    A 2002 e-mail suggests that an investigation commissioned by The SCO Group failed to produce any evidence that Linux contained copyrighted Unix code.

    The e-mail, which was sent to SCO Group CEO Darl McBride by a senior vice president at the company, forwards on an e-mail from a SCO engineer. In the Aug. 13, 2002, e-mail, engineer Michael Davidson said "At the end, we had found absolutely nothing ie (sic) no evidence of any copyright infringement whatsoever."

    The e-mail was posted Thursday to Internet law site Groklaw.

    SCO sued IBM in 2003 for more than $1 billion, alleging that IBM had misappropriated Unix technology to which SCO claimed intellectual property rights.

    A SCO representative told CNET that the e-mail was authentic, but noted that the e-mail doesn't say when the SCO investigation took place or what tools were used.

    "That e-mail probably creates a lot more questions than it answers," SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said. "We'll be fully prepared to address that, but we will be doing that in a court setting if it is necessary."

    An IBM representative declined to comment.

    In the e-mail, Davidson shares his findings with Senior Vice President Reg Broughton, who then forwards that note to McBride.

    "The project was a result of SCO's executive management refusing to believe that it was possible for Linux and much of the GNU software to have come into existence without someone somewhere having copied pieces of proprietary UNIX source code," Davidson said in the e-mail. "The hope was that we would find a 'smoking gun' somwhere (sic) in code that was being used by Red Hat and/or the other Linux companies that would give us some leverage."

    Although the details of the investigation are not spelled out in the e-mail, Davidson does note that it was done by Bob Swartz, a consultant hired by SCO.

    "An outside consultant was brought in because I had already voiced the opinion (based on very detailed knowledge of our own source code and reasonably broad exposure to Linux and other open source projects) that it was a waste of time and we were not going to find anything," he wrote in the e-mail.

    Davidson goes on to note that Swartz spent four to six months looking at the Linux kernel as well as a large number of libraries and utilities, comparing them to several different versions of AT&T's Unix source code.

    Late Thursday, SCO released an e-mail from Swartz that it points out shows the analysis dates back to 1999 and that SCO says shows that Swartz did find possible issues with Linux.

    In the e-mail, dated Oct. 4, 1999, Swartz said that there was some code that was line-for-line identical to Unix and other code that appeared to be rewritten, perhaps to disguise that it was copied. However, Swartz also noted that it was not entire programs, but rather "fragments of code."

    • PJ Cabrera

      PJ Cabrera - 2005-07-15

      Ha ha, looks we are going to go through the RCD copy-on-write analysis again.

      (RCD copy-on-write is a short piece of code from Sequent Unix, that was rewritten and donated to Linux from IBM. IBM bought Sequent in 1999. SCO showed some slides in 2004 at a conference, that showed how Linux contains identical code to Sequent Unix code -- which they say is their copyright, not IBM's. The were essentially laughed out of the house. It seems they're going to get laughed out of court too.)


Log in to post a comment.