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3/19/2004
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SCO Legal Action: Don't Panic Yet

The SCO-Linux melodrama is moving new territory -- assault on the customer, says Network Computing's Rob Preston.

The SCO-Linux melodrama, whose over-the-top plot line has "jumped the shark," is moving into Act II: Assault on the Customer. The Lindon, Utah, Unix licenser made good on its three-month-old threat to sue a high-profile Linux user for misappropriating code. SCO went after auto-parts chain AutoZone for allegedly infringing its copyrights and DaimlerChrysler for allegedly violating the terms of its Unix license.

SCO also confirmed that three more companies--Computer Associates, Leggett & Platt and Questar--have bought licenses that let them run Linux without fear of legal action from SCO. The companies don't necessarily accede to SCO's claim that Linux violates its intellectual property. They simply took steps to avert a potentially costly and drawn-out legal battle. If your enterprise uses Linux, don't despair. Just because a handful of companies are falling prey to SCO's legal tactics doesn't mean it has a leg to stand on in the courts. Wait for a judgment on SCO's claims before paying the vendor any heed. The U.S. District Court in Utah, for instance, ruled this month that SCO must specify which lines of Linux code it claims to have rights to--put up or shut up.

Meantime, if you're a Linux shop, it makes good business sense to work with vendors that indemnify customers against possible SCO legal action. Indeed, the SCO-Linux plot thickens, but it's difficult to tell whether it's a tragedy or a comedy.

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