According to InfoWorld, SCO wants to have $699 per processor from everyone who runs Linux on a server, as an “introductory” offer and will ask $1399 after Oct 15 for a single-processor license.

That’s pretty stunning. Even if SCO were right with their allegations that there is SCO-owned IP in Linux (and I am not in the position to make any statement about the rightfulness of that claim), $699 per processor is still well above and beyond what would be their fair share – that pricing scheme looks more like “this is our OS, including everything that ships with it” and that seems just plainly wrong.

This reminds me of a similar high-profile case: the Unisys GIF license. They hold/held the LZW patent and that’s used in GIF. Of course, lots of developers found out after they’ve implemented and shipped GIF support and Unisys probably waited for a critical mass to accumulate before they started enforcing licensing fees for that patent in early 1995. (Side note from the Unisys site: The U.S. LZW patent expires June 20, 2003, the counterpart Canadian patent expires July 7, 2004, the counterpart patents in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy expire June 18, 2004, and the Japanese counterpart patents expire June 20, 2004.). While Unisys certainly didn’t make too many friends with that move, they were initially asking something like ten cents to at most ten dollars per distributed copy of any software package using the GIF format, if I remember right (the pricing information seems to have vanished). I would think that looking at the SCO case, this all of a sudden becomes very fair and reasonable.

[Still, the web-site fee of $5000 per site if you were/are using unlicensed (as in: Unisys’ LZW patent licensing) software to create your GIFs, remains outrageous]