Infrequently Asked Questions About The SCO Fiasco

Fake News written by Noah Morals on Wednesday, December 3, 2003

from the straight-from-the-lawyer's-mouth dept.

As a community service, I have taken the liberty of compiling a list of questions and answers about the ongoing battle between the free world and the Company Formerly Known As The Santa Cruz Operation. Ordinarily, as a high priced lawyer, I wouldn't have time for these things, but unfortunately right now most of my clients are bankrupt and therefore unable to afford my services, leaving me without any lawsuits to pursue.

So what exactly is SCO claiming?

It depends on the day of the week. On Mondays, SCO claims that recent versions of the Linux kernel contain certain enterprise-level features that infringe on SCO's copyrights. It's not entirely clear what specific blocks of code are involved, although SCO has generously offered to reveal this information to any person who merely sells them their first born son, a standard industry transaction (according to SCO).

Now, on Tuesdays, SCO argues that virtually all Linux kernels are illegal because they were licensed under the un-American, pro-Commie GNU General Public License, a clear violation of the McCarthy Everything Even Remotely Smelling Like Communism Is A Form Of Treason Act, passed by Congress in 1954.

For Wednesdays, SCO attempts to claim that they own the copyrights for the entire Unix code base and all derivatives, including Windows NT and 2000, which as we all know are really just Unix reimplemented badly.

On Thursdays, SCO asserts the right of "eminent domain" over all open source software, arguing that the interests of society would be better served by turning open source software into proprietary SCO software. "It's no coincidence that the surge in popularity of Linux and the recent economic recession occured at the same time," explained one SCO spokesweasel. "Linux hurts the economy, and we feel that appropriating open source software for our own purposes would boost the economy, help society, and possibly cure cancer."

On Fridays, SCO claims that Linux is a threat to national security and opens the door for terrorists to kill millions, nay billions, of people. Naturally, SCO is tight-lipped about this terror threat, only to insinuate that the "mastermind" behind Linux is not a native American and therefore cannot be trusted. As a result of this "threat", SCO wants the government to treat C compilers the same as automobiles, requiring programmers to obtain licenses and undergo background checks before they are allowed to craft anything more complicated than "Hello world".

During Saturdays, SCO argues that the entire open source community is violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. A recent SCO press release claims that because of the viral nature of the GPL, open source programs are unfairly "bundled" together, creating a monopoly on free software that shuts the door on the competition. Or something like that.

And on Sundays, SCO rests.

Does SCO's actions violate any patents held by organized crime?

Good question. I consulted with the Humorix Vast Spy Network(tm), which, after an exhaustive ten minute search using the US Patent and Trademark Office search engine, was able to find several relevant patents:

  • Microsoft holds Patent #8,523,019,772 on "methods and applied theories for cutting off the air supply of competitors".

  • The Tennis & Protection Rackets Co. asserts patent rights on "sending veiled threats to other businesses to convince them to send you money for no legitimate reason".

  • Rent-a-Thug Enterprises owns a patent on "an algorithm for efficiently deploying hired thugs, goons, and other associates for the purpose of maximizing effectiveness while minimizing costs".

  • This Is Not A Front Company, Inc., owns rights to a scheme involving the "artificial inflation of stock prices through the judicious use of front companies".

  • House of Cement Shoes, L.L.C., maintains a patent on the "careful dissemination of disinformation about disliked competitors to boost market and mind share."

I can't say for sure whether SCO is violating any of these patents, but I wouldn't be surprised if somebody started to take an "interest" in the health of SCO's executives.

As an aside, I would like to dispel any potential rumors that SCO itself might be involved with organized crime. For one thing, SCO is simply too disorganized to belong to that industry.

Is there any chance this all could blow up in SCO's face and send several high-ranking executives to prison?

Only a naive fool would believe that high-ranking executives actually get sent to prison. Even when a judge throws the book at them, the worst they can expect is a six-month term in a very-minimum-security "prison" with its own jacuzzi and ocean view.

To everybody who honestly belives that the scofflaws working for SCO might actually receive prison time: please send me your name and address and I will send you an exciting offer on a package deal involving a bridge for sale cheap in New York.

I have written a book about open source and I would like somebody with a legal background to review it. I would happily pay a memorium of upwards of $150 in exchange for a, uh, positive review. Who should I talk to about this?

Please direct such inquiries to the Humorix Director of Money-Making Enterprises, who will supply you with a rate sheet of our services. Note, however, that for $150 we will only write a review based on the material from the book's dustjacket cover. To actually read the book will cost extra, and to write a positive review will require even more simoleons.

[Editor's Note: The previous question was actually submitted to Noah Morals last month. No, we're not making this up.]

What if SCO succeeds? Should we start panicking now, or later?

There's no reason to panic. Only two outcomes are possible with the current litigation: If SCO loses, then Linux wins. But if SCO wins, then Microsoft loses. Either way, there's something for everybody.

One of SCO's periodic claims (I can't remember off-hand if they use this on Mondays or Thursdays) is that all Linux users should be held liable for intellectual property issues with Linux, even if the end-users have nothing to do with programming and couldn't tell the difference between a sea captain and a C compiler.

Clearly, if this argument were to succeed (and SCO is basing much of its case on this quicksand foundation), then every time somebody sues Microsoft for patent infringement, they could also sue every single Windows user on the planet. Obviously, even the Microsoft public relations department would not be able to find a way to positively spin that. We would have to score this as a win for Linux.

Who or what is responsible for writing SCO's press releases and Fortune 1500 bark letters? Clearly no self-respecting person would compose this drivel. Are trained monkeys involved in this somehow?

Contrary to popular opinion, an infinite number of monkeys sitting at typewriters for an infinite amount of time will not produce Shakespeare. Empirical tests conducted by the Humorix Vast Lab Of Doom(tm) with 12 monkeys produced pages upon pages of line noise, such as "FJkl;asd jklxfkl;bb368er]-o12=03 qasdfj]op". Adding more monkeys to the problem will not help.

With that in mind, it seems unlikely that monkeys of any kind could be employed by SCO. While SCO's press releases are easily confused with line noise, they at least make grammatical sense.

No, I suspect that the press release writers are actually human. The problem is that they speak Marketdrivenish, a dialect of Pointyhairedbossian, which bears only a superficial relation with plain English. This language barrier explains why ordinary people see drivel while SCO's minions see gold.

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