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SCO Snares Linux Licensee

Efforts by The SCO Group to collect Linux licensing fees it claims it's entitled to bore its first public fruit today, with the company announcing that Texas Web-hosting house EV1servers.net has signed on to an intellectual property (IP) licensing agreement.

Under terms of the deal, EV1servers.Net gets a blanket site license that allows the use of SCO IP in binary form on all its Linux servers.

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell declined to give the exact value of the deal but said it was worth at least $1 million.

EV1servers.net is a $99-per-month Web site hosting company. Formerly known as RadioShack.Net, the company has been in existence since 1999 and claims 400,000 customers in 42 states.

"They have 20,000 servers total," Stowell said. "The majority of those are Linux servers. This is a site license that covers those servers."

SCO has previous pegged its IP license at $699 per server processor and $199 per desktop processor. Using those figures, 20,000 server licenses would cost nearly $14 million, so the current agreement is likely a discounted arrangement.

SCO has been trying to get Linux users to take out licenses since last fall, based on claims that its copyrighted Unix code is included in Linux.

In the United States, SCO has sent letters to Linux users, requesting license fees and asserting that a lawsuit could be forthcoming if they don't comply with the request. SCO recently the groundwork for collecting similar fees from Linux users in Europe.

EV1servers is the first company to publicly take out a license, but isn't the only licensee, according to SCO. "We've had other licensees," Stowell said. "This is the first to publicly state it. The adoption rate, based on the companies we have contacted, has been decent. Certainly not every company we've contacted has decided to take out a license, but a good portion have."

On the legal front, SCO's Linux suits have been much in the news lately. Last week, a U.S. court agreed to let SCO add copyright infringement claims to its Linux lawsuit against IBM .

Separately, SCO has threatened legal action against companies that deploy Linux if they don't pay licensing fees for parts of the free operating system that SCO claims comes from its Unix code.