Linux Founder To Get Free Legal Counsel In SCO Suit

Open Source Development Labs, which employs Linus Torvalds, says it will pay its law firm, AterWynne LLP, to represent the creator of the open-source operating system.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds, who was subpoenaed in the SCO Group's $3 billion lawsuit against IBM, will get free legal counsel from his employer. The Open Source Development Labs, which was also subpoenaed Wednesday in the case, said Friday that it would pay its law firm, AterWynne LLP, to represent Torvalds.

"We as an organization are taking responsibility for the funding of legal representation for anybody involved with our company as part of this litigation," OSDL spokesman Nelson Pratt said. "Our legal counsel is reviewing the subpoena that was sent to [Torvalds], as well as OSDL as an organization."

Asked whether the subpoenas have had any effect on OSDL operations, Pratt said, "The answer is, no."

OSDL said in a statement that the subpoenas requested that the consortium and Torvalds produce documents for use in the litigation. Pratt declined to comment further.

OSDL is a consortium established to improve Linux, an open-source operating system that's growing in popularity among companies for running business applications. Members include Alcatel, Cisco Systems, Computer Associates, Dell, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, Mitsubishi Electric, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, and Toshiba.

SCO filed its suit in March, claiming that IBM violated its Unix contract with SCO by improperly donating Unix code to the Linux kernel. Torvalds is the chief developer of the Linux kernel. IBM has denied the allegations and filed a counter suit.

In its suit, SCO has also attacked the general public license governing Linux, saying in court papers that the GPL "violates the U.S. Constitution, together with copyright, antitrust, and export control laws."

Besides OSDL and Torvalds, SCO has requested legal information from John Horsley, chief executive of Torvalds' former employer and OSDL member Transmeta Corp.; and Richard Stallman, creator of the GPL and founder of the Free Software Foundation.

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