SCO’s McBride warns of open source ‘wild west’

Protect your intellectual property (IP) now or risk having your business sacked by open souce-touting bandits, The SCO Group Inc. president and CEO Darl McBride warned an audience of tech industry leaders, analysts and investors at the Etre conference in Cannes, France on Tuesday.

McBride, whose company is mired in litigation with IBM Corp. and others over patent infringement claims concerning Unix source code, warned of the “high stakes” if companies in the software and music businesses don’t protect their property now.

“Once you put something in digital form, it’s easy to copy. My question for you is how are you going to respond if that happens to your IP,” McBride said, likening the current situation between open source proponents and proprietary companies to the “wild west.”

The Lindon, Utah, company is claiming that its proprietary Unix source code is being used in a Linux kernel, which is used by several companies in their Linux-based development, without paying a licence to SCO. As he fights a prolonged legal battle on several fronts, McBride has positioned himself as a de facto champion of IP protection amid growing threats from free, open source development.

“SCO’s market share has dropped from 40 per cent to 10 per cent. … We are under attack from what I call ‘hurricane Linux,'” McBride said. However, he praised companies that have commercialized Linux, such as Red Hat Inc.

In a speech intended to present the current place of Linux in the development of the tech industry, McBride tried to stir support for his company’s battle.

“The open source movement says that proprietary software shouldn’t exist. They say that the operating system should be free, but that’s a slippery slope,” McBride said. “There’s 12 million developers worldwide, are you gonna let their work be free?”

Audience members at Etre were reluctant to weigh in on SCO’s battle. “I think it’s clear to us that people can’t give away things for free forever,” said conference organizer Alex Vieux.

McBride said that his company would soon be erecting a Web site to set out SCO’s side of the story.

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