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Re: <nettime> If you can't beat them, monetize them!
Benjamin Geer on Fri, 12 Sep 2003 00:12:48 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> If you can't beat them, monetize them!

Patrice Riemens wrote:
> SCO invites open source people to 'monetize' Linux

A snappy reply from Linus Torvalds, which nicely sums up the crux of the 



Dear Darl,

Thank you so much for your letter.

We are happy that you agree that customers need to know that Open Source 
is legal and stable, and we heartily agree with that sentence of your 
letter. The others don't seem to make as much sense, but we find the 
dialogue refreshing.

However, we have to sadly decline taking business model advice from a 
company that seems to have squandered all its money (that it made off a 
Linux IPO, I might add, since there's a nice bit of irony there), and 
now seems to play the U.S. legal system as a lottery. We in the Open 
Source group continue to believe in technology as a way of driving 
customer interest and demand.

Also, we find your references to a negotiating table somewhat confusing, 
since there doesn't seem to be anything to negotiate about. SCO has yet 
to show any infringing IP in the Open Source domain, but we wait with 
bated breath for when you will actually care to inform us about what you 
are blathering about.

All of our source code is out in the open, and we welcome you to point 
to any particular piece you might disagree with.

Until then, please accept our gratitude for your submission,

Yours truly,

Linus Torvalds


And from Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens:


Mr. McBride, in your "Open Letter to the Open Source Community" your 
offer to negotiate with us comes at the end of a farrago of falsehoods, 
half-truths, evasions, slanders, and misrepresentations. You must do 
better than this. We will not attempt to erect a compromise with you on 
a foundation of dishonesty.

Your statement that Eric Raymond was "contacted by the perpetrator" of 
the DDoS attack on SCO begins the falsehoods. Mr. Raymond made very 
clear when volunteering his information and calling for the attack to 
cease that he was contacted by a third-party associate of the 
perpetrator and does not have the perpetrator's identity to reveal. The 
DDoS attack ceased, and has not resumed. Mr. Raymond subsequently 
received e-mailed thanks for his action from Blake Stowell of SCO.

Your implication that the attacks are a continuing threat, and that the 
President of the Open Source Initiative is continuing to shield their 
perpetrator, is therefore not merely both false and slanderous, but 
contradictory with SCO's own previous behavior. In all three respects it 
is what we in the open-source community have come to expect from SCO. If 
you are serious about negotiating with anyone, rather than simply 
posturing for the media, such behavior must cease.

In fact, leaders of the open-source community have acted responsibly and 
swiftly to end the DDoS attacks  just as we continue to act swiftly to 
address IP-contamination issues when they are aired in a clear and 
responsible manner. This history is open to public inspection in the 
Linux-kernel archives and elsewhere, with numerous instances on record 
of Linus Torvalds and others refusing code in circumstances where there 
is reason to believe it might be compromised by third-party IP claims.

As software developers, intellectual property is our stock in trade. 
Whether we elect to trade our effort for money or rewards of a subtler 
and more enduring nature, we are instinctively respectful of concerns 
about IP, credit, and provenance. Our licenses (the GPL and others) work 
with copyright law, not against it. We reject your attempt to portray 
our community as a howling wilderness of IP thieves as a baseless and 
destructive smear.

We in the open-source community are accountable. Our source code is 
public, exposed to scrutiny by anyone who wishes to contest its 
ownership. Can SCO or any other closed-source vendor say the same? Who 
knows what IP violations, what stripped copyrights, what stolen 
techniques lurk in the depths of closed-source code? Indeed, not only 
SCO's past representations that it was merging GPLed Linux technology 
into SCO Unix but Judge Debevoise's rulings in the last big lawsuit on 
Unix IP rights suggest strongly that SCO should clean up its own act 
before daring to accuse others of theft.

SCO taxes IBM and others with failing to provide warranties or indemnify 
users against third-party IP claims, conveniently neglecting to mention 
that the warranties and indemnities offered by SCO and others such as 
Microsoft are carefully worded so that the vendor's liability is limited 
to the software purchase price, They thus offer no actual shield against 
liability claims or damages. They are, in a word, shams designed to lull 
users into a false sense of security -- a form of sham which we believe 
you press on us solely as posturing, rather than out of any genuine 
concern for users. We in the open-source community, and our corporate 
allies, refuse to play that dishonest game.

You invite us to negotiate, but you have persistently refused to state a 
negotiable claim. You have made allegations of a million lines of copied 
code which are mathematically impossible given the known, publicly 
accessible history of Linux development. You have uttered vast 
conspiracy theories which fail to be vague only where they are 
slanderous and insulting. You have already been compelled to abandon 
major claims  such as the ownership of SMP technology alleged in your 
original complaint against IBM  on showings that they were false, and 
that you knew or should have known them to be false,

Accordingly, we of the open-source community do not concede that there 
is anything to negotiate. Linux is our work and our lawful property, the 
distillation of twelve years of hard work, idealism, creativity, tears, 
joy, and sweat by hundreds of thousands of cooperating hackers all over 
the world. It is not yours, has never been yours, and will never be yours.

If you wish to make a respectable case for contamination, show us the 
code. Disclose the overlaps. Specify file by file and line by line which 
code you believe to be infringing, and on what grounds. We will swiftly 
meet our responsibilities under law, either removing the allegedly 
infringing code or establishing that it entered Linux by routes which 
foreclose proprietary claims.

Yours truly,
Eric Raymond
Bruce Perens


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