Tuesday, July 22, 2003

There has been a ton of news this week on SCO's legal attacks on Linux. SCO thinks it sees a way to make a lot of money off the free operating system. According to the WSJ, Darl McBride of SCO sees a huge cash bonanza if their legal tactics succeed: 'Even if you take an average number, it gets to a few billion [dollars] pretty quickly,' McBride said.

This whole thing puts a cloud over Linux. So here's a question: The market cap of SCO today is $173 million. Could a million of the Linux faithful get together and pay $90 each to buy half the company? Then the new majority owners could vote to release UNIX to the public domain and end this whole thing. It would be the first open source corporate takeover. A group of corporations could get together and do the same thing. IBM could do it -- the company is already going to pay millions in legal fees. Why not put the money to good use? Google could do it. Google has thousands of processors running Linux, so it is in its interest to free Linux. A consortium of companies like IBM and Google could do it.

Governments or the U.N. might also use the concept of Eminent Domain -- which is defined as, "The right of a government to seize private property for public use, in exchange for payment of fair market value" -- to accomplish the same thing.

Given the number of people running Windows 98 and the fact that Microsoft is going to stop supporting it, it might be interesting to use Eminent Domain to buy the Windows 98 source and release it to the public domain as well. Microsoft if making zero dollars off of Windows 98 today -- it should not cost anything for the government to buy and release it.

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