[clug] Fw: Linux licence

Rasjid Wilcox rasjidw at openminddev.net
Thu Aug 28 00:14:42 EST 2003

On Wednesday 27 August 2003 18:57, Ian McCulloch wrote:
> On 27 Aug 2003, Conrad Canterford wrote:
> > On Wed, 2003-08-27 at 12:02, Kim Holburn wrote:
> > > I would think that before SCO asks for licenses for linux they would
> > > have to specify in detail what code in the linux kernel they think
> > > they own.  Otherwise what right have they to say anything in linux
> > > is theirs?
> >
> > No, its not illegal. If you refuse to pay up, then it falls on SCO to
> > prove that you are using their code before they can get damages, but
> > they do not need to prove anything to ask you to give them money. Now,
> > if they continue to extort licence fees after a court has laughed them
> > out the door, that's a different matter - that might be illegal.
> Violation of the trade practices act?  If they get to the point of
> actually billing people it is surely illegal, obtaining money under
> false pretences or some such.

>From http://radio.weblogs.com/0120124/2003/07/24.html, the relevant sections  
potentially are:

"To whit: 
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s52.html -- 

'Misleading or deceptive conduct

"'(1) A corporation shall not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is 
misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.'' 


"'False or misleading representations

"'A corporation shall not, in trade or commerce, in connexion with the supply 
or possible supply of goods or services or in connexion with the promotion by 
any means of the supply or use of goods or services: ... (f) make a false or 
misleading representation concerning the need for any goods or services; 

IANAL, but it would seem that the obvious question is whether SCO's claims 
that you *need* to buy a license from there are false or misleading.  And 
since SCO refuses to show the code, we do not know either way for sure 
(although me might take an educated guess).

I think the issue here is that (if their claim is legitimate) it is trivial 
for SCO to show the offending code.  It is *already* public, so they can 
hardly claim they don't want to reveal trade secrets.  And their reluctance 
to do so suggests that their claim may be dubious.

I think the best that could be hoped for from the ACCC is a similar situation 
to that in Germany - where SCO is forced to keep their mouth shut and go and 
seek their extortion fees elsewhere.  However, since to an outsider (so to 
speak) it is not immediately obvious that SCO's claims are false, I'm unclear 
as to how active the ACCC is likely to get.



Rasjid Wilcox
Canberra, Australia  UTC + 10

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