Martin Pool's blog

Australian group files complaint against SCO

Open Source Victoria filed a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission according to a story in The Australian:

Open Source Victoria today filed a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, asking it to investigate SCO's activities in light of "unsubstantiated claims and extortive legal threats for money" against possibly hundreds of thousands of Australians.

OSV member Con Zymaris said "We take serious issue with The SCO Group's latest ploy, namely that of seeking licence fees from Linux users. As such, we have filed a complaint with the ACCC. We call on any Australian Linux users who feel pressured by SCO's actions to immediately contact the ACCC and file a complaint."

Zymaris said that with its latest move, SCO had crossed the line. "They're basically saying 'you owe use money'. But if someone asks 'why do I owe you money', they reply, "we can't tell you why, but you have to pay us anyway'," he said.

Another OSV member Andrew Pam said the organisation believed there may be a case to answer on the issue of "misrepresentation of need", where an organisation was suggesting that people must make payments that they were not obligated to make.

That sounds pretty accurate to me. I'm all in favour of people being able to buy proprietary licences if they want to, but demanding money with menaces is and should be illegal.

*If* (and this is if-hell-froze-over hypothetical) it turned out that SCO had some proprietary rights to Linux, *and* they had not waived their rights, then once that was all legally established it would be OK for them to start requiring users to purchase licences. However, when the claims are so tenuous, unlikely, and unsubstantiated, they seem to me to be gratuituously interfering with businesses that use or sell Linux and related products/services.

Trink Guarino, IBM spokesman quoted on GROKLAW says something similar:

IBM is not aware of any Unix System V Code in Linux. SCO needs to openly show this code before anyone can assess their claim. SCO seems to be asking customers to pay for a license based on allegations, not facts.

Australia is (at least?) the third country to have an interference with trade or deception investigation into SCO. They are subject to similar actions in Germany and Poland. In addition, there are rumours of an insider trading investigation in the US, plus an unrelated ethics charge against their head lawyer. It's good to see that there is some kind of legal mechanism to prevent people going around making random damaging untrue claims, even if it takes longer to operate than one might like.

GROKLAW has the good dope on the US case and the legal precedents behind it. And isn't laches just such a great word?

Slashdot has a story about this too. (Although, typically, they called it a lawsuit when I think in fact it is not. At this stage it is a complain to a government body, not to a court.)

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