Today (yesterday? timezones are confusing) the jury in the long-long-long-running case of SCO vs. Novell returned a verdict. on the question whether the copyrights (to UNIX) were transferred to SCO. The jury answered “no”, which bring to a sort-of-close the whole lawsuit. You can find more coverage at Groklaw (kind of gloaty, though), Ars Technica (annoying with Konqueror though) or The Register.
I say it’s sort-of-closed, simply because the decision and final verdict belongs to the judge, not the jury (as the parties in the suit had requested — see Groklaw). So things could still change around. In any case, this means (modulo final decision, appeals, and whatnot) that the copyrights to UNIX still reside with Novell and SCO has no case to bring copyright infringement suits against contributors to Linux. Novell has the copyrights, so it would be Novell’s prerogative to do so if such claims had any merit.
To put it more simply still: the spectre of suits “against Linux” on the basis of copyright infringement from UNIX is now banished. That’s a form of freedom.
[[ Another case, Palm vs. Artifex, has its first hearing today if I read the court schedules right a ways back; that’s the suit brought by Artifex against Palm for Palm using the mupdf (GPL) libraries but not shipping the sources of the PDF viewer application. A suit that, to me, exemplifies yech, gross on both sides of the suit: Palm for not doing the usual compliance move, Artifex for shipping wretched source for mupdf and bringing suit from a licensing rather than compliance angle. ]]