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The Voice of Groklaw - page 5

The Scope of Groklaw

  • December 31, 2003
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

LinuxPlanet: Do you think SCO will ultimately prevail or not? Why?

Jones: Barring martial law, you mean?

More seriously, I can't see how they can win, but how can anyone know absolutely when we have yet to be told after nearly a year what code they are talking about? Their demeanor makes me believe they think they have something up their sleeve, or imagine they do, some card they will play at the right minute in trial in the dispute against IBM. However, they thought their SCOForum code was dynamite, too.

You say "ultimately prevail," but in which arena? IBM is a contract dispute. Red Hat has to do with copyright and tort claims. Then there are the vague copyright threats against end users, now including possibly some BSD code. They have mentioned that the BSDi-USL settlement terms have been breached, but by whom and how and where?

How to predict any of this when it's all so nebulous? That vagueness appears to me to be deliberate, as if they are copying the USL pattern, but from what is now publicly known, I don't expect SCO to prevail, because I doubt that there is any infringing code using normal definitions, for one thing, and because their Don Quixote quest to have the GPL declared unconstitutional appears doomed.

LinuxPlanet: What if SCO turns out to be right about the Linux code violations? How would this influence your editorial stance?

Jones: It wouldn't. From day one, the community has said that if any code turns out to be in violation, it'll be removed immediately. Stallman, Linus, Moglen--they all offered to remove anything SCO can show that is infringing, and SCO refused their offers and refused to identify the code. If any code is ever proven to be in there, it'll be removed. End of story. It is like a sliver in your finger. Nothing helps but removing it totally. Nobody wants SCO's legacy code. That's their misfortune.

Nothing can alter the fact that SCO has refused to allow the community to remove any allegedly infringing code and so mitigate SCO's damages, if any exist. It would be a relief to find out where any stupid code is hiding so we can get it out, if they aren't just bluffing. If there is anything, from all I've heard, it seems it can only be a very tiny fraction, unless you accept SCO's highly unusual definition of derivative code, which I don't.

And nothing will ever erase SCO's behavior from the community's memory. If they had behaved honorably, or even normally, and showed the code they believe is infringing, the community would have stood on its head to be helpful. No one wishes to violate anyone's rights. That's been true from day one.

The problem is, SCO seems to want its code to be in Linux and to force Linux to keep it there, so SCO can be like a troll under the bridge, making you pay every time you cross the bridge. They want to be paid for every Linux sale, from what I understand, and so make money from code they claim they own inside it. They don't want to let anyone remove it, because then there is no money for them from each sale of Linux. That is the impasse, as I understand it.

It reminds me of just before the Revolutionary War, when the English forced the colonists to house and feed British troops in their homes. What a brainstorm that was. Not. The English thought it would be to their advantage to compel the colonists to toe the line. It backfired, because nobody likes a forced house guest who stays forever at your expense and whom you hate to begin with. SCO wants to force Linux to accept its code permanently moving in and remaining a house guest forever. They will find that it's just not acceptable and that the Linux community is resourceful and will not accept any such arrangement, so their dreams of untold wealth from Linux appear impossible of fulfillment.

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