The SCO Group announced the availability of its Intellectual Property Licence in Australia and New Zealand this week with an ominous warning that Linux users who do not act should be prepared for a tap on the shoulder at any time.
While the threat of a court room tussle is a "last resort" option for the Unix developer, SCO Australia's general manager Kieran O'Shaughnessy told CW, "We reserve the right to seek redress through the courts."
O'Shaughnessy was unwilling to detail projected figures on the likely takeup of the IP Licence because it was "hard to quantify", but pointed out there was a range of avenues available to assist SCO in identifying how many Linux boxes there are in Australian organisations.
"The number of licences we expect to distribute is yet to be determined because it is hard to quantify; but we have begun the process of identifying organisations running Linux and we are starting at the top end of town," O'Shaughnessy said.
"Those who do not buy the licence will be contacted by SCO directly and the process will begin; we are not suggesting that we will sue every man and his dog, but we will seek redress through the courts if necessary. In the US we have announced we will be suing large Linux users.
"The Licence protects Australian organisations so they can leverage their Linux investments and continue day-to-day business without interruption."
The SCO IP Licence is currently available at the introductory pricing of $999 per server processor, $285 per desktop processor and the company is also offering the licence to embedded device manufacturers that use Linux to run their devices. The licences, which are now available globally to small to medium sized companies outside of the Fortune 1000, will also be available locally through SCO resellers from February 1, 2004.
To date, SCO has sent out letters to 1500 large, global Linux users charging them with violations of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The letter outlines what SCO claims are copyright violations related to Linux.
The company said in a statement that certain application binary interfaces have been copied from SCO's Unix System V Code without proper authorisation or copyright attribution.
SCO has also mailed notices to 6000 Unix licensees requiring them to certify full compliance with their Unix source code agreement.
At the same time SCO has promised to sue an unnamed company using the Linux operating system next month.
(With Matt Hamblen and Jennifer Mears.)