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Intel chips in on anti-SCO defense fund

The chipmaker gets involved in Linux users' legal battle against SCO Group, contributing money to a defense fund designed to help them fight off suits.

Intel has gotten involved in the legal battle between the SCO Group and Linux, contributing money to a defense fund geared to protect users of the open-source operating system.

The Open Source Development Labs, an industry consortium that employs Linux leader Linus Torvalds, announced Monday that it is organizing the legal defense fund.

"It would be made available to some Linux customers that come under litigation from SCO," said the OSDL's executive director, Stuart Cohen. A subcommittee of the consortium's board of directors will decide how to allocate funds, he said.

Intel has been largely quiet in the legal case, but it and several other major computing companies are actively involved in the OSDL.

OSDL hopes to raise $10 million, Cohen said. So far it's raised $3 million from a group of companies that includes IBM, and Intel.

The funding would be used to protect Linux users who are sued for Linux issues common across the industry, not for issues particular to that user or company, an OSDL representative said.

SCO, which claims to own several key Unix copyrights, argues that Unix software was illegally moved into Linux and is demanding that companies using Linux pay license fees or face legal action.

Linux uses interfaces that are covered by SCO's copyrights, SCO has argued. Thus, the use of Linux "constitutes a violation of the United States Copyright Act," the Lindon, Utah-based company has said. Legal experts have advised Linux users to see what comes of court cases before agreeing to any license deals, however.

SCO's legal actions so far have targeted IBM, though leading Linux seller Red Hat has brought a suit against SCO in return.

OSDL isn't the first to offer protective measures in the legal domain. Hewlett-Packard indemnifies its Linux customers against SCO Group actions. And Red Hat has begun a legal defense fund of its own for open-source programmers.