Linked by Amjith Ramanujam on Fri 18th Jul 2008 23:29 UTC, submitted by Dale Smoker
Legal The convoluted case of SCO v. Novell dealt a heady blow to the SCO Group Wednesday, with United States District Judge Dale Kimball ordering the company to pay $2.5 million to Novell for improperly claiming, and collecting royalties for, the Unix operating system.
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RE: What about 32v?!
by zztaz on Sat 19th Jul 2008 07:31 UTC in reply to "What about 32v?!"
zztaz
Member since:
2006-09-16

32V and earlier are more than likely in the public domain. This is one of the reasons AT&T settled the case with the UC Regents, and asked that the terms of the settlement be secret. Some of those secrets have leaked. The rumor is that while AT&T showed that the BSD release infringed on a minor amount of AT&T code, AT&T was claiming copyright on and distributing a large quantity of code written by others.

When Unix development began, the conventional wisdom was that copyright did not apply to software. NDAs and other contract provisions typical of trade secrets were used instead.

At some point, someone claimed copyright on software and won in court. So AT&T retroactively pasted copyright notices on the then-current code. But they botched the details, such as registration, and also failed to distinguish AT&T code from that contributed by universities and licensees. No one had kept track of who owned the copyrights to which lines at a time when everyone assumed copyrights didn't apply to code.

So some code was released without copyright, but under NDA. But AT&T was sloppy, and gave the code to many people without an NDA. Courts have held that you can't require someone to keep secret something that you yourself have disclosed to the public.

Some early code is under an unenforceable NDA. Some later code is under unenforceable copyright. Only later code, System III or V, is clearly protected by copyright.

None of the Unix licensees were willing to challenge the copyright status of 32V. It was in their interests as much as AT&T's to pretend that AT&T's copyright claims were valid and that they had good licenses. Only McBride and friends were stupid enough to raise that lose/lose situation, and once the good lawyers looked at it, they told McBride to shut up about 32V.

It looks like Caldera gave away copyrights that they didn't own. On the other hand, Novell's claim to 32V copyrights (through AT&T) isn't worth warm spit. A good working assumption is that no one owns 32V, it is in the public domain. No one with any sense will go to court over 32V, on any side.

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