IBM/SCO/GPL (Was: Re: (L)GPL remarks and FreeGIS licensing)

edA-qa mort-ora-y eda-qa at
Tue Aug 26 17:02:49 UTC 2003

Alex Hudson wrote:
> Not really. Ignorance of the law is indefensable; ignorance in general
> is. We're talking about the difference between knowing whether or not an

Agreed, I meant ignorance of the law, not ignorance in general.

> I really don't see what this example has to do with anything. I presume
> Party B are SCO, I'm not sure who Party A are supposed to be (Linux
> developers?). The example fails mainly because we're not talking about
> contract law (the GPL is not a contract). But it's also not an accurate
> description of what's happening at the moment.

The GPL is a contract.  Copyright law prohibits individuals from making 
copies, the GPL effectively offers the right to make copies and more as 
a benefit of the contract.  If the GPL is not a contract, then it is 
nothing, and you really can't do anything with GPL'd code.

A contract is roughly defined as an agreement made between two or more 
parties involving the exchange of value/benefits.  (This last bit is 
important in the discussion of whyt EULA's may not be valid contracts, 
and therefore are nothing.)

> SCO aren't distributing code derived from GPL code (at least, not that
> we know ;), they are claiming that GPL code being distributed derives

SCO did distribute GPL code, as part of their Linux system offerings. 
It is to be seen if *their* code was part of this offering at the time 
they offered it (which was still quite recently).

What I am saying is that they wish to back out of the agreement they 
made under the GPL, stating that others may further modify and/or 
distribute their code (whether they put their own code in their 
intentionally or not is irrelevant).

The point I made about damages is that they wish to break the contract 
they made with the GPL, and the GPL doesn't have such a clause stating 
what happens, so a judge/arbitrator would have to assess SCO's 
liabilities for damages under the contract.

If SCO's ideas/patents were not present in any Linux which they were 
distributing, at any point while they were distributing it, then their 
code based on these ideas never were released under the GPL and my 
explanation is irrelevant.

edA-qa mort-ora-y
Idea Architect

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