SCO shows IBM the code

Ten months after launching its lawsuit against IBM Corp., The SCO Group Inc. has finally provided Big Blue with a list of files and individual code samples that, it claims, violate its intellectual property rights.

The information was sent to IBM on Monday in response to a December order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, said Blake Stowell, a SCO spokesperson.

IBM confirmed that it had received documents from SCO on Tuesday, postmarked Jan. 12, but declined to provide details about their contents or say whether or not they appeared to satisfy the court’s order.

In March, SCO launched a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against IBM, claiming that the computer giant had illegally contributed SCO’s intellectual property to Linux. Since then, SCO has maintained that Linux includes software that has been both directly copied and illegally derived from its Unix source code, but the Lindon, Utah, company has been reluctant to provide examples of the alleged copyright violations.

Monday’s response included no examples of copyright violations, Stowell said. “We’ve not introduced copyright infringement as part of our case with IBM. We’ve tried to make it clear that it’s a contract issue.”

The contract issue to which Stowell refers hinges on SCO and IBM’s definition of “derivative works.” SCO claims that a clause in IBM’s 1985 Unix license about derivative works prevents Big Blue from contributing any of the code from its AIX or Dynix/ptx operating systems to Linux. IBM disputes this claim.

In a declaration that accompanied SCO’s response, the company’s general counsel, Ryan Tibbitts, claimed that Linux’s read copy update, journaling file system, enterprise volume management system, AIO (Asynchronous I/O), and “scatter gather” I/O code had been derived from either AIX or Dynix/ptx and therefore were improperly contributed to Linux.

Tuesday’s response makes it clear that, despite SCO’s talk about line-for-line Unix copying in Linux, copyright will not play a role in the IBM lawsuit, said Bill Claybrook, an analyst with Harvard, Mass., industry research company Harvard Research Group Inc. “It tells me, for one thing, that they’re not trying to say that IBM copied code directly from System V to Linux,” he said.

Some other documents will be sent to IBM later, according to SCO. In a court document posted to SCO’s Web site, SCO admitted that it had failed to provide IBM with “files of certain officers and directors for whom SCO could not obtain the requested materials during the holidays with sufficient time to review the documents.”

Though he declined to say which SCO officers and directors or what files the court document referred to, Stowell said that the files in question would be delivered to IBM before the next court meeting between IBM and SCO, scheduled for Jan. 23.

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