Linux users face licence cash call

European firms are being urged to buy a licence for Linux to avoid legal action by SCO which claims the operating system unlawfully includes some of its computer code.

Before now SCO has been pursuing US companies to buy a licence for Linux but now it is extending the licensing program overseas. SCO said it would probably launch legal action this year against high profile European firms that decline the chance to take out a licence. The California-based company has put aside $16m to help fund its global legal fight to win cash back from Linux users.

Rights issue

The money is also being used to fund legal action against IBM which SCO claims has taken some of its intellectual property and used it in Linux. However, SCO's claim that Unix was the inspiration for parts of Linux are widely disputed. Many Linux advocates worry that the threat of legal action will scare people off adopting the free-to-use operating system that has become popular recently. Preliminary hearings in the legal battle with IBM will take place throughout 2004. The widening of the licensing programme raises the prospect of SCO launching many more lawsuits against end users of Linux that do not take up a licence.

News source: BBC News

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