Monday, September 29, 2003

Linux Under Lock & Key: Comment: This InformationWeek article, "HP's Big Bet", champions HP's offer to indemnify HP Linux customers in response to SCO threats. Well gee whiz, SCO also champions HP's offer and wonders what the other Linux distros are waiting for. To me the HP indemnification strips Linux users of all the open source “GPL” attributes that make Linux so much better than proprietary alternatives. HP strips out the GPL by repackaging the code under their indemnification terms. Leaving users with Linux the operating system ~ application host, but dependent on HP. No thanks. This is a shallow scheme to destroy the GPL, and all the open source communities dependent upon GPL protection. A protection from proprietary companies bent on raping, pillaging, and plundering the bloom of open source community efforts. Linux with hand cuffs? You have to ask yourself why SCO is urging Linux distributors to “indemnify” their customers the same way HP has. Why would SCO compliment HP for properly protecting their customers, and in the same breath diss IBM who has legally taken SCO to task and is defending in court the provisions of the GPL? Something is rotten in Utah, and InformationWeek has bought into the stink. The HP indemnification strips the open source freedoms from Linux, leaving HP users with a proprietary packaging putting HP in control of Linux based information infrastructures. No wonder SCO and Sun are rushing o indemnify. These companies are hemorrhaging. UNiX shops are embracing Linux at the low ends of their enterprise stacks, and the cabal of SCO, HP and Sun fully realize that there is no way to box in Linux unless they can lock up user access to the source code. In that way they can control the implementation and integration interfaces so critical to keeping the money train of their costly UNiX solutions rolling. The simple truth is that for proprietary vendors, the GPL transfers to users more than just the source code. It transfers control. Control over the future of their information systems. Someone correct me if i'm wrong here, but the issue of indemnification, phony as it is, is based on the thinking that Linux users are concerned about being caught up in the SCO extortion scheme. Indemnification from SCO extortion comes by way of a warranty stating that the Linux distro provider will cover legal and licensing expenses. Of course this would make it easy for SCO to coerce protection fees. This is an easy decision for bean counters to make. The effect of this is to officially sanction extortion for the use of open source community efforts. Your article makes the incredible insinuation that somehow this legal indemnification is common with all proprietary licenses, in stark contrast to the GPL. “.......... While it's common for makers of proprietary software to protect customers from intellectual-property infringement claims, such protection hasn't been offered with open source because the software's lineage isn't as clear cut, says Melise Blakeslee, a partner with law firm McDermott, Will & Emery. With open source, she says, users are getting the software "as is." HP's offer to take responsibility for any SCO Group claims will likely reassure customers, Blakeslee says........” What a load of crap! It is not “common for makers of proprietary software to protect customers from intellectual-property infringement claims” beyond the purchase price of the software! There is simply no equivalence between the purchase cost refund “protection” proprietary vendors warrant in their EULA's, and the legal – extortion licensing scheme SCO, HP, Microsoft and Sun have hung on the GPL Linux indemnification issue. Who in their right mind would call the common EULA “indemnification”? Oh yeah. There are those who seek to so totally confuse everyone so that they stop asking questions about saving money, complying with open standards, demanding open interfaces, and seeking end to end integration of the many costly but disconnected sub systems that comprise their information infrastructure. ~ge~

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