Paul Davis' Letter to the Pennsylvania Attorney General

I am a Pennsylvania resident who develops audio software for the professional recording studio market, as well as a partner in a commercial studio here in Philadelphia. I own 4 computer systems that all run the Linux operating system, which as you may be aware is an alternative to systems such as Microsoft's Windows. Before moving to Pennsylvania, I was one of the founding employees of, the well-known online retailer.

Recently, a company called the SCO Group, based in Lindon, Utah\footnote{SCO Group address} issued a press release\footnote{URL for press release} to various wire services, claiming that I (and other Linux users in similar situations) need to pay them $2796 in order to avoid being in violation of various intellectual property rights that they claim to possess.

As far as I can determine, the SCO Group has so far failed to establish any legal basis for this claim, which is heavily disputed by many other parties. The company is currently involved in litigation with both IBM and a Linux distributor called RedHat. Most observers seem to agree that even if SCO wins its cases, which many find unlikely, they will still have no basis to charge end users of Linux a license fee or to prosecute them for copyright violation. Yet their press release and interviews/analyst meetings involving company officers clearly threaten the possibility of legal action if I choose not to purchase their license.

I am troubled that they appear to be able to threaten me and others with these costs and/or legal issues when they have not established any basis for their claims in a court of law. Put charitably, their actions appear to verge on fraud, and somewhat less charitably, they are close to extortion. I would not imagine that the law would look favorably on a significant media campaign claiming that any users of, for example, General Motors automobiles needed to buy a license from me because their cars contained some of my intellectual property.

I would note in passing that companies like Disney,, and Google use {\em thousands} of machines running Linux. The SCO Group's claims are equivalent to requesting payments of many hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of dollars, from such companies. Meanwhile, the SCO Group's almost daily appearance in the technology industry trade media disparaging the legal status of the Linux operating system threatens my latest business venture by frightening potential customers and business partners with unsubstantiated claims.

I would appreciate it if your office could clarify Pennsylvania's position on this matter so that I can understand the actual nature of the legal threat the SCO Group's press campaign poses to my business.

Copyright 2003