SCO sends mixed messages over its licensing plan

Many small and midsize businesses that have installed Linux would not be able to purchase SCO's intellectual property license - even if they wanted to.

That's because SCO, which sells a license for US$700 that it says clears Linux users of any SCO intellectual property violations, is only offering the license to the largest of U.S. companies.

SCO last week said that it would only offer the licenses to Fortune 1000 companies that are using Linux. This new part of SCO's licensing initiative came as news to many business concerned about the legal liabilities that may arise due to SCO's ongoing lawsuit against IBM.

SCO in January sued IBM for copyright infringements, claiming that IBM had lifted code from the Unix System V code base, which SCO claims to own. SCO has since, on paper at least, revoked IBM's license to sell Unix, denied the validity of the General Public license under which Linux is governed, and demanded that Linux users buy its license, which would protect them from any legal liabilities. (IBM has denied SCO's allegations and is even challenging SCO's Unix ownership claims.)

SCO says that it will reevaluate its licensing program for smaller businesses at a later date, which is good news for companies nervous about Linux liability. In the mean time, it says Linux users at large corporations have until Nov. 1 to buy the US$700 per-processor license fee. Then the company will raise the fee to US$1,400.

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