SCO claim to control files crumbles in light of BSD agreement

OK – so way back when SCO sent a letter to Lehman Brothers claiming ownership of a set of files in the Linux kernel and that they were never intended to be redistributed but were to be strictly controlled.

Asides from the fact that it’s likely that AT&T USL forfeited copyright on anything in V32 UNIX by distributing without any copyright notices it looks like there is even less that SCO can claim any sort of control over.

Now that the BSD settlement is public there are some interesting discrepancies to note between what SCO claim and what the settlement (which bound any successors in interest) says. This defined 3 categories of files, those that were “restricted” from further distribution (Exhibit A files), those that were USL UNIX derived but “may be freely reproduced and redistributed by others without payment of any royalties or fees and without execution of any license agreement with USL and/or the University” as long as they included the USL copyrights (Exhibit B files) and files derived from the BSD Net2 release and included in USL’s UNIX (Exhibit C files).

SCO claims to own an allegedly “copyrighted” ABI contained in errno.h, signal.h, stat.h, ctype.h, ioctl.h, ipc.h, acct.h, a.out.h, ecoff.h and bsderrno.h (yes, really, the BSD errno.h, not USL’s!).

So lets go through them..


OK – asides from the fact that Linus based errno.h on Minix (probably 1.5.10), the BSD settlement lists errno.h in Exhibit B. Permitted for redistribution by USL.


Again it appears that Linus based his signal.h on the Minix version, with some modifications to make it more POSIX, and again the BSD settlement lists this file in Exhibit B, so again USL explicitly permitted its redistribution.


Listed as an Exhibit B file.


Exhibit B again.


Again, USL permitted redistribution by listing it in Exhibit B.


Exhibit B file.


Exhibit B, spot the pattern ? But wait..


Exhibit C. Now there’s interesting, this is a file that was not listed as being derived from USL’s UNIX but as being derived from BSD instead! One wonders if they forgot to include the BSD copyright statement as required in the settlement and SCO have gotten confused about this ?


This one isn’t listed anywhere, interestingly..


This appears to have only arrived in 2.6 and is for Sparc NetBSD compatability, so it would appear that it is derived from the NetBSD release, and therefore is BSD derived.

I guess this leaves SCO’s only hope here as being why some of these files don’t bear USL and/or BSD copyright notices, but this may well be because (as is the case for errno.h and signal.h) they were created by Linus from other sources, such as Minix.

Certainly their claim that these were copied verbatim has been comprehensively undermined.