[clug] sec: unclassified - Samba Team, on SCO and sweet irony

Mark Harrison m.harrison at anu.edu.au
Thu Aug 21 15:54:25 EST 2003

On Thu, 2003-08-21 at 15:07, Michael Still wrote:
> > If the GPL is invalid, then there is effectively no license attached to
> > Samba, so SCO could do what they like with it.
> No, try again. If the license is invalid on Samba (which it almost
> certainly is not), then copyright law still applies. Samba's copyright is
> registered in the US, and the Samba team will still own it. They'll just
> have to find a new license.

I thought it was the other way. That is, until the copyright owner
initiates a new license, then the work is licensed under the terms of
the GPL. The GPL contains no terms (becuase it is invalid), so there is
effectively no license.

> > If you violate someone
> > elses copyright, then that is kinda illegal. But if you just fail to
> > apply copyright properly to your own property, then you are just
> > foolish.
> Which the Samba team has not donw.

well, yeh. I did not mean to imply otherwise.

> > When SCO downloaded Samba, that copy became their property and SCO
> > would like us to think that there are no restrictions at all on their
> > use of that property.
> No, they are required to follow the terms of the license, in return for
> the use of the copyright material. If the license is invalid, then they
> need to renegotiate with the Samba team.

See above. To repeat myself, I think it is up to the samba team to
initiate renegotiations if the samba team is not happy with licensing
things under an invalid license.

> > Becuase SCO _choose_ to relicense Samba under the
> > GPL (they dont have to becuase there are no restrictions on what they
> > can do), they are simply making the same totally legal mistake that the
> > Samba team made. (assuming that SCO are right).
> They're not relicensing it. They don't own Samba, and cannot apply their
> own license to it.

yeh, I guess. That was resting on my assumption that the samba license
contains no terms. This is diffferent from there being no explicit
license, in which case i would certainly agree with you. If the GPL is
invalid, then samba is explicitly licensed under a license that contains
no terms, which to my mind, says you can do anything.

> > SCO seem to be making two points.
> > 1) Anyone who writes software and releases it under the GPL is really
> > releasing it with no copyright protections at all. There is nothing
> > 'illegal' about this - it just gives SCO the right to do whatever they
> > want with GPLed code.
> Wrong! Look at any source file in most GPL'ed packages. They almost always
> still have copyright statements. Here's a random file's first few lines
> (samba/source/tdb/tdb.c in this case):
>  /*
>    Unix SMB/CIFS implementation.
>    Samba database functions
>    Copyright (C) Andrew Tridgell              1999-2000
>    Copyright (C) Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton      2000
>    Copyright (C) Paul `Rusty' Russell              2000
>    Copyright (C) Jeremy Allison                    2000-2003
>    This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
>    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
>    the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
>    (at your option) any later version.
>    This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
>    but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
>    GNU General Public License for more details.
>    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
>    along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
>    Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
> */
> Note that copyright still applies. Once again, if you're relying on the
> GPL as your right to use this code, and the GPL is invalid, then you're
> right to use the code goes away until a new license is applied. The code
> is still copyright the relevant Samba team members.

Yes, copyright still applies, but I dont think your right to use the
code goes away automatically. Your right will go away when the copyright
owners explicitly take it away. If some terms of the GPL are invalid,
then the rest of the terms of the GPL are still in force. If all of the
terms of the GPL are invalid, then, my understanding is, the GPL as a
whole is still the license under which you can use the code, and that
license just happens to be empty and contain no terms.
The GPL also does not mention (I am pretty sure) the ability of the
copyright holder to terminate the license without cause (but it will be
terminated if you break the terms). So, I am not sure how the copyright
holder could go about negotiating a new license if there is no easy way
to revoke the old one.

> > 2) In addition, they are sayng that their code was stolen and that is
> > where where the illegality comes in. If you use Linux post 2.2, then
> > SCO claim you are using stolen code. And that is illegal.
> Perhaps. But I didn't do the stealing, how can I be held responsible. They
> should sue the thieves if anything.
> Mikal
Yeh, thats the scary bit. They seem to be arguing that there is no line
to be drwan between the person who stole the code and the person who
uses it. I gues they are banking on being right and arguing that the
users knew it was stolen but kept using it anyway.


More information about the linux mailing list