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October 30th, 2017

SCO, the Not-Walking Dead, Returns

It appears that the once cancelled SCO Show has again been rebooted after a federal judge okays an appeal.

SCO Logo

SCO. There’s a name I’ll bet you thought you’d never hear again. Guess what? It’s back.

Wasn’t there a Bond film called “Live to Die Another Day.” Even if there wasn’t, that applies here.

When last we talked about SCO, in March, 2016, we told you this might happen, although Judge David Nuffer had all but put a bullet through the already dead and bankrupt company’s brain (there’s an oxymoron if ever I wrote one) on February 29, 2016. But exactly a month after the judge’s ruling, the company had somehow managed to scrape together enough spare change to pay the filing fee for an appeal. Today, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that that the appeal could go on, on a claim of misappropriation, but upheld Judge Nuffer’s other two orders.

In case you’re new to the Linux game, here’s a few paragraphs I wrote last year explaining who SCO is/was:

SCO, of course, is the Utah based company, once part of the Canopy Group, which sued IBM for $1 billion in 2003, claiming that IBM had purloined code from Unix and contributed it to Linux. SCO’s case against IBM was eventually rendered moot when Novell proved that it owned the Unix copyrights that SCO was claiming.

In the media circus which surrounded the story in the period immediately following SCO’s initial claim, SCO produced code at a press conference that they claimed to be a line by line copy of Unix code. It was — but it was no smoking gun. The code also belonged to BSD and was available under the open source BSD license, meaning Linux developers were fully within their rights to use it.

So what is this whole misappropriation angle all about? As Ars Technica explains it, it’s all about a Unix operating system that never saw the light of day:

“In essence, SCO has argued that IBM essentially stole, or misappropriated, its proprietary code (known as UnixWare System Release 4, or SVr4) in the May 4, 2001 release of the ‘Monterey operating system,’ a new version of UNIX designed for IBM’s ‘Power’ processors. However, this Monterey OS was incomplete, as it lacked a compiler.”

And I’ll let the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals give you what Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story”:

“IBM released for general distribution a version of its own proprietary AIX for Power product that included the code. SCO thus argues that IBM released a ‘sham’ version of the Monterey system in order to legitimize its own general distribution of the AIX for Power product containing Santa Cruz’s code. (Aplt. Br. 2, 13.) This is the essence of misappropriation claim.”

Anyway, that’s what SCO is claiming.

Stay tuned. We’ll keep you informed.

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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