EV1Servers CEO Robert Marsh says he realizes his company might be “vilified” for signing a licensing agreement with The SCO Group, becoming the first publicly identified company to have paid SCO to settle its disputed legal claims involving Linux. But Marsh said the company acted to protect its customers, some of whom were expressing concern about the SCO case.
By paying a licensing fee to insulate itself against SCO’s legal claims, EV1Servers drew immediate fire from many corners of the Linux community, with some Slashdot readers suggesting a boycott of the company. EV1Servers is one of the largest dedicated hosting companies, with more than 11,000 Linux servers visible on the Web, according to our most recent survey
“We realize we may be vilified by some diehards within the industry, but we feel a real obligation to take care of our customers,” Marsh said in an interview this afternoon. “We had private discussions about this issue with some of our customers, and they were quite concerned about the uncertainty and the potential for a legal quagmire. What we’ve done is ensure that it’s not an issue for our customers.”
SCO’s press release stated that EV1Servers “joins other Fortune 1000 companies that have signed up for a SCO IP license,” but not identified themselves publicly. Marsh said he never considered a similar stealth agreement. “In terms of being public about it, that’s the way we do business,” said Marsh. “We feel an obligation to be upfront with our customers and deal with them in an honest and straightforward manner.”
SCO contends that Linux includes copyrighted code from its own operating system, and is asking Linux users to pay $699 per server for a license to use its intellectual property. Under the terms of the agreement, SCO will provide EV1Servers.Net with a site license that allows the use of SCO IP in binary form on all Linux servers managed by EV1Servers.Net in each of its hosting facilities. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Houston-based EV1Servers currently features Red Hat Enterprise Linux as its primary Linux offering, and recently began offering FreeBSD as well. EV1Servers also has more than 1,000 web-facing Windows 2003 servers as of October.
It's unclear whether EV1Servers' move is likely to influence other hosting providers mulling their hypothetical exposure to SCO's intellectual property claims. If anything, EV1Servers may have handed a marketing tool to competitors courting power users and resellers among the Linux/Open Source user base, where passions run deep regarding SCO's legal claims. "We anticipate that the initial reaction from some will be negative, and that our competitors may note that," said Marsh. "Over the long-term, I believe this provides a safe haven for our customers, and that's our primary concern."