Digital Raven (digitalraven) wrote,
Digital Raven

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FUD and the American Way

Surely everyone has heard the frankly retarded claims that SCO's dancing monkey^W^WCEO, Darl McBride has made about Linux incorporating code that his company owns (without providing one shred of proof to that effect). SCO have, on the premise that they own the code, even started selling "Linux licenses", which have got them within inches of a summons for fraud in Australia.

SCO is in court trying to sue IBM over the use of code SCO claims to have rights to in Unix (this is where they make the old "millions of lines" claim, but want IBM to prove their case for them). They thought IBM would just pay them off or buy them up out of court, giving McBride plenty of cash. SCO forgot that IBM has one of the world's scariest legal teams, and has the better part of the F/OSS (Free/Open-Source Software) world on their side, including Red Hat, Novell, HP and maybe twenty other big names. Red Hat is suing SCO over these claims, and SCO this week launched a suit against Novell — who had been sitting in the background quietly releasing a lot of papers that are harmful to SCO's case.

More information on all of this can be found on GrokLaw. Bear in mind I have produced the very, very basics. Up until earlier, this was the situation and it looked reasonably certain that SCO would get the shit beaten out of them by the F/OSS world and judges who don't like people not providing any evidence to their baseless claims.

That changed this morning. The Open Source & Industry Alliance (OSAIA), which describes itself as an organization that "represents the interests of the broad array of companies, organizations, and individuals that comprise the open source community", has released a letter (PDF link) that it says McBride has been sending to Congress.

If real, this letter is pretty blatantly seeding nothing more than FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) in the United States government against Open Source software in general, and the GPL in particular. For those of you who don't have a clue about computers, this is a BAD THING as explained in the comments to the posts on both Groklaw and Slashdot.

The problem is, despite government agencies such as the NSA not only using but supporting Linux (without the NSA there would be no Security-Enhanced Linux), not many representatives in the US government are going to have a clue about F/OSS. This FUD-filled letter is full of choice phrases which are designed to appeal to politicians, especially American ones.

If you have any stake in F/OSS not being blasted in government[0][1], I would urge those of you in America to do what you can. In the Groklaw comments there are some good examples of counter-letters (the page is very large and they may require some digging through threads to get to, but perseverance will pay off) which only need a spelling/grammar check and the details of your representatives to be filled in.

I wouldn't be advocating such measures were I not worried that this time, the FUD is targeted just right, and there is a very real risk of ignorant politicians (I know, I am being redundant) preempting the courts and giving SCO anything other than what they deserve (which is time in a federal penitentiary for multiple counts of fraud).

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free

[0]: Don't laugh. Ticketmaster told the wives of senators how hard it would be to get opera tickets if a bill went through against Ticketmaster, and it was dropped faster than me escaping a vegetarian restaurant.
[1]: If you are reading this, you do. TCP/IP (the protocol which makes the Internet work) and BIND (that software that means you can type "" rather than a series of numbers) are both OSS. Without those, there would be no Internet. Apache is an OSS web-server which runs over 63% of all existing websites. Livejournal is a site built from OSS code.

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