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SCO Seeks Licenses Down Under

Opening up a new front in its ongoing bid to collect Linux license fees, The SCO Group is now targeting users in Australia.

"Our Australia office is beginning to contact end users," SCO spokesman Blake Stowell told internetnews.com. The communications are in the form of letters from SCO to Linux users encouraging them to contact the company to discuss the matter.

The mailings follow on the heels of similar efforts in the United States and Europe.

Domestically, recipients of the SCO notices have included two major U.S. government installations -- the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., and the National Energy Research Scientific Computer Center (NERSC) in Berkeley, Calif.

Both the Livermore and NERC letters, copies of which were provided to internetnews.com by SCO, state the company's claims in much the same way. Both letters noted:

"Certain copyrighted application binary interfaces ("ABI code") have been copied verbatim from the Unix System V code base and contributed to Linux for distribution under the General Public License ("GPL") without proper authorization and without copyright attribution....The System V ABIs were never intended or authorized for unrestricted use or distribution under the GPL license in Linux. As the copyright holder, SCO has never granted such permission..."

"Use in Linux of any of the ABI code or other Unix derived code...constitutes a violation of the United States Copyright Act. Also, distribution of copyrighted code identified as part of a source or binary distribution of Linux, with copyright management deleted or altered, violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act."

The letter from SCO to NERC was signed by SCO's regional director of intellectual property licensing Gregory Platt. The Livermore letter was signed by SCO general counsel Ryan Tibbitts.

SCO spokesman Stowell couldn't provide the precise text of the letters SCO is sending out in Australia, but noted that the content is "something along the lines" of letters company has mailed out in the United States.

"These [the Livermore and NERSC letters] are two examples of dozens of letters we've sent," Stowell said, adding he didn't know the exact number of letters that have been mailed.

Describing the communications, Stowell said: "They've received a letter outlining the issues we have with Linux. It contains an attachment regarding the use of our Unix ABIs."

According to Stowell, SCO is asking the recipients to follow up. "It says to please contact us," he said. "It doesn't set a time limit, but If you fail to respond, we will turn it over to our legal counsel. "

In that regard, the letter to NERSC concludes with a request from SCO for "a meeting so that we may discuss the alternatives that are available to your firm." That is followed by a sentence in all capital letters, which reads: "We believe we can propose solutions that will be agreeable and economically feasible for you."

The Livermore letter differs from the NERSC letter in that it contains a detailed list of the files SCO claims have been infringed. The conclusion is also more succinct. It does not specifically request a meeting, concluding with "Thank you for your attention to these matters."

News about the letters comes amid SCO's continuing legal battles. SCO is currently enmeshed in separate lawsuits against IBM and Novell. In addition, Red Hat has sued SCO to stop the latter from making what it called "untrue" claims about its business.