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SCO gets to see the code

Fri Jan 21 10:44:27 2005

Referencing: Judge opens up Unix code for SCO

IBM has to cough up the code and any notes or other documents that the folks involved in making code changes might have. Groklaw (and IBM, of course) insist that there's nothing to be found, but they do get to look. SCO has an awful track record in finding anything, and with regard to Linux, if it was IBM's "stolen" code that is in there, why can't SCO just point at it in Linux source? Why am I so confused by this?

I am confused even more. I thought the Groklaw position was that SCO doesn't own anything - didn't the Novell agreement only give them the right to sell Unix? Obviously the judge must not agree, or we're talking about code SCO developed themselves, or bought, or.. oh well, it's as complicated and confusing as ever, but at least it's moving along.

Remember, folks, the ultimate decision will have nothing to do with morality and may have little to do with legality either: this is a highly technical and confusing mess that is going to be decided by non-technical people. Anything can happen, including the truly awful. Just look at our patent mess for an example of what happens when non-techs make decisions about these things. Judges and juries are going to be even more confused than I am, and the final results will be created from their confusion.

I'm still hoping for Linux walking away clean, of course. Anything else will be damaging to all of us, even those who have no investment in anything but Microsoft. If this lawsuit damages free code, Microsoft is strengthened, which of course locks more people into proprietary systems, where innovation is just a funny word marketing uses and engineering spends most of its efforts protecting code from unlicensed use and munging interfaces so that they are useless to competitors.

But it's too soon for doom and gloom.

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© Tony Lawrence

---January 22, 2005

"Obviously the judge must not agree"

This judge (there's two involved) can't rule on the right or wrong of this case. She just administers the initial fact-finding process. All she did in this ruling was to point out that there's disagreement on what is right and relevant, and therefore she will allow SCO to get most of what they asked for, in case their understanding later is proven to be correct.

As for "why can't SCO just point at it in Linux source?", they are claiming that they have controlling rights to IBM "homegrown code", through contracts. If they ever win on that claim, it will not matter to Linux, though IBM may be punished. Parties not involved in a contract can't be held to it, and as SCO don't claim other rights (like copyrights) to such code, Linux is free to continue using it.


---January 22, 2005

Well, that would be good, then. I've said before that I don't care what happens between IBM and SCO, as long as it doesn't affect Linux. But I still do NOT understand the Linux part of this. You suggest here that Linux might be uninvolved, but that doesn't seem to be the case: SCO is still pursuing that licensing business. So I remain confused and wary :-)


---January 22, 2005

"SCO is still pursuing that licensing business."

Are they? Several people have reported trying to actually get one of those, with no success whatsoever.

Confused is what SCO wants us to be, but to be wary of the outcome of any legal case, seems only wise to me. :-)


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