SCO, Unix, and Net Neutrality

unix-live-free-lg.jpg What does this have to do with net neutrality?
The Lindon-based SCO Group Inc. says it is planning to lay off 16 of its 123 employees and has asked a federal bankruptcy court to keep their identities secret because it fears they could be harassed.

SCO also is facing an effort to push ahead with a trial in federal court in Utah that could determine that SCO owes Novell as much as $35 million in licensing fees because of a ruling in a dispute over ownership of the Unix software program.

SCO filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 14, the result of a long court battle with Novell and IBM over ownership and use of the Unix computer operating system program. SCO claimed it, and not Novell, owned the copyright to Unix and that IBM had used parts of that code in developing the Linux operating system, whose code is open to the public and can be used or altered by individuals or companies for their own uses.

Stricken SCO to lay off 16 workers, Lindon-based firm asks court to keep ex-employees ID secret, By Tom Harvey, The Salt Lake Tribune Article Last Updated: 10/15/2007 11:45:43 PM MDT

Unix was actually invented by a couple of researchers at AT&T Bell Labs, in an attic, in their spare time. AT&T never knew what to do with Unix, and eventually shuffled it off to Western Electric, whence it finally percolated over to SCO (I’ve probably omitted a few owners in between).

Meanwhile, Microsoft made billions out of an operating system (and clever legal ploys such as boot loader contracts). And Unix and its offshoots such as Linux underly everything from Apple’s OS-X to mobile phones to Google.

This seems to me the archetypical example of why we shouldn’t expect telephone companies to innovate, no matter how much of a monopoly they have. If we want innovation, we want net neutrality and competition.