Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Linux FUD from the BSD Camp

BSD supplier Wasabi Systems is offering a new take on Linux FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) this time it is Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

The gist is this:

Effectively, executives are lying to their shareholders if they do not disclose, or do not know, that the company doesn’t have a valid license for software it is claiming as an
owned asset. Unlike a mere GPL violation, this misrepresentation is a crime, and carries
criminal penalties.

Wasabi's conclusions include the following:

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act radically changes the risk portfolio for companies using Linux as a
development platform. Violations of the Linux license, and even the common practice of
leaving GPL compliance to engineers, are, we believe, violations of federal law. Companies
thus face the choice of complying fully with the GPL (despite the loss of intelectual property
and the intrusiveness of legal review), risking federal sanction, or seeking alternatives to
embedded Linux (which may include proprietary systems, or open source products governed
by different licenses, such as the BSD license). Violating the GPL, for public companies and
those which seek to become public, is now a federal crime.

Wasabi has another White Paper out there on this topic and it has this interesting paragraph:

The real problem here is that the GPL was created by the Free Software Foundation with an
ideological, not a commercial, aim in mind. Is it any surprise that a proprietary software company runs into legal issues when it uses the license of the "Free Software Foundation"?

and this line as well,

Unless embedded Linux users are content to release all their code, they are wise to look for insurance.

Or use BSD perhaps?

We are not sure how much fire is here with this line of attack but the documents are worth a look.