LAS VEGAS - Mixing James Bond video clips with dry analysis of legal contracts and source code, The SCO Group Inc. made its legal case over IBM Corp.'s alleged misappropriation of Linux source code to 650 developers and channel partners at its annual SCOForum trade show in Las Vegas on Monday.
In a two-and-a-half-hour keynote address, SCO executives sought to portray their struggles with IBM and the Linux community as a fight for the future of proprietary software itself, an argument that seemed to play well with the audience, which cheered McBride on at points.
"We are defending and protecting our intellectual property rights, and this is a huge raging battle around the globe," said SCO Chief Executive Officer Darl McBride. "We are fighting battles that are going to have an impact on all of you," he added. "At the end of the day, the GPL (the GNU General Public License software license that governs Linux) is about making software free; it's about destroying value."
In March, SCO launched a lawsuit against IBM, claiming the Armonk, New York, computer maker had inappropriately contributed source code to Linux. In August, IBM countersued, and Linux distributor Red Hat Inc. launched a suit of its own against SCO.
McBride said that the IBM suit only came as a last resort after it became clear that Big Blue intended to "obliterate" SCO and its products. "It happened when we got pushed into a corner and had nowhere else to go," he said.
The relationship with IBM, which had historically been a channel for SCO's Unix software, began to sour last fall when SCO began developing plans to start charging for its Unix libraries for Linux, McBride said.
At that point, IBM threatened to stop letting its partners work with SCO, he claimed. "After we announced that, we were cut off from IBM," he said. "Around the world, my sales people said, 'IBM won't work with us. What did you do?' "
McBride compared SCO's struggles with IBM and the Linux community to a James Bond movie and SCO ran a five minute clip of Bond actor Pierce Brosnan obliterating a small airport to underline the point. "Bond is always on the edge of being taken out, but in the end, Bond never dies. But when you look at what we've gone through over the last few months, the similarities are striking," he said.
The James Bond visuals and music, provided courtesy of the hotel hosting the event, the MGM Grand, combined with McBride's anecdotes of attacks from the Linux community, and the presence of uniformed security guards lent the event an edgy air. "We will be subject to attack while we're here," McBride said. "There are rumors of pies in the face for McBride and (SCOsource vice president Chris) Sontag," he said.
Since the lawsuit, McBride said, SCO's offices had been picketed, its Yahoo Finance chat groups bombarded with messages to sell SCO's stock. He added that he had received a 2 a.m. prank call to his home number. "I am Linus Torvalds and I've just sued you in the court of Delaware," the prankster claimed, according to McBride.