Open Letter to Darl McBride of SCO from Bob Young
[As sent to the editors at [G2News ( http://www.g2news.com/ )], a Linux newsletter, in response to an open letter from SCO [ http://www.sco.com/copyright/ ] defending, in one breath, the SCO suit [ http://www.linuxinsider.com/perl/story/32328.html ], the Digital Millenium Copyright Act [ http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/iclp/dmca1.htm ], and the Supreme Court Decision in the Eldred vs. Ashcroft [ http://eldred.cc/ ] case.]
December 7, 2003
Subject: open letter back to Darl
To the Editor,
I've kept out of this debate as I no longer work at Red Hat [ http://www.redhat.com/ ] and wanted to give Matthew Szulik and the Red Hat team complete control over Red Hat's communications with the press.
But three years have passed since I worked at Red Hat. Lulu.com [ http://www.lulu.com/ ] is where I'm spending my time and energies, now I figure I can and should speak up. Lulu is attempting to create a marketplace for digital content. Its goal is nothing less than to enable authors to decide for themselves how to edit, market, and grant rights to others over the use of their works (copyright).
On the off-chance that anyone is taking Darl McBride's campaign seriously I can no longer sit idly by, as to do so could some day restrict the users of Lulu.com from choosing the copyright terms and conditions that most suit the needs of the projects they are trying to advance.
Bob Young, CEO, Lulu.com (co-founder of Red Hat in another life)
Many smarter people than me have demolished your arguments around the idea that anyone has knowingly stolen any property from you. Yet you continue to refuse to tell anyone what it is that you claim has been stolen. So your arguments against others ring very hollow. It is like my claiming you broke into the trunk of my car and stole something from me. But then I refuse to tell anyone, the police or anyone else, what was stolen, or even allow anyone to look in the trunk of my car. Your strategy would be laughable if it were not costing everyone involved huge amounts and of time and effort to correct your errors and respond to your lawyers.
Secondly, no one is arguing against copyright. Everyone agrees Intellectual Property, from trademark law, to copyrights and patents, is a good thing.
Ok, so maybe Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation [ http://www.gnu.org/ ], the inventor of the GPL license, thinks it is not a good idea to copyright software. But even Richard thinks copyright has its place to enable authors to earn a living. Free markets are not so fragile that a new idea like the GPL can threaten them. The only thing that can threaten free markets in a democracy is fear. Fear can cause well-meaning governments to enact flawed legislation. The kind of legislation the DMCA represents. The DMCA is the equivalent of trying to stop break-and-entry of homes by making screwdrivers illegal. Breaking and entering should be illegal. Allowing honest citizens to own innocent tools that evildoers might use to break and enter must remain perfectly legal. It is the crook who should be sent to jail, not the tool nor the owner of the tool.
The Supreme Court case that you misrepresent in your latest open letter demonstrates the Justices think too much of a good thing may no longer be so good. The case you quote [Eldred vs Ashcroft ( http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/02pdf/01-618.pdf )] was accepted by the Supreme Court specifically because they wanted to consider whether copyright, enacted by the founding fathers with a term of 14 years, may be getting stretched a little too far at its current 95 years. The case was decided based on the Justices concluding that it was up to Congress, not the Supreme Court, to set the terms of copyright law. Groups like Creative Commons [ http://www.creativecommons.org/ ] are working to fix in the marketplace the problems caused by recent expansions of copyright terms. But then you seem to have little respect for the marketplace.
The sad thing about your arguments is that you undermine them by running your company so badly. SCO's revenues from the sale of goods and services (not counting some very odd license "revenue") have fallen every quarter since you took over SCO. Corporate America does not illegally download anyone's property to save a few bucks. They purchase the best product and services available from the companies they trust the most. You and your team have proven to be incapable of producing good products, at least not as good as those from other suppliers. These self-serving "open letters" make SCO appear extremely untrustworthy. So you have violated both of the customer service rules you should be focused on honoring.
Darl, for the sake of your case in front of the courts, for the sake of your company's ability to win customers, for the sake of everyone's blood pressure, and to save yourself further personal embarrassment, you might want to be less vocal. All you are doing is causing your audience to educate themselves. Once everyone understands how wrong you are your stock price will suffer. Hmmm, suddenly when I think about it - you might in fact be doing us all a favor.
Bob Young, CEO Lulu.com
Copyright 2003 http://www.lulu.com/journal/scoletter?fTheme=community