Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I'm no fan of Groklaw. Well, that's not quite right. Let's try again: I'm no fan of those who are fans of Groklaw. Yes, that's more like it. There's nothing wrong with Groklaw itself: Pamela Jones has an opinion and an agenda, and she uses Groklaw to express it. That's fine. What I object to is those folks who pretend that this is all gospel truth, that it's fair, balanced journalism and that anything in disagreement isn't.
I'm very much in agreement with Groklaw's political viewpoint. If you don't know what that is, go read this Interview with Pamela Jones. But it is a political point of view, and everything she writes has that behind it. A lot of what I write has the same or similar bias behind it, too. But I'm not pretending to be a news site, am I?
Well, just had to make all that clear before getting into the meat of it.
Forbes reports that SCO has discovered IBM email proving improper use of SVR4 code. Groklaw insists that SCO knew this all along, and offers some of SCO's own web pages as proof. The web pages in question have disappeared from both SCO's site and the WayBack Archives. That's disturbing, as it smacks of Nixonesque cover-ups, but Groklaw has plenty of snipped material so we may not be missing all that much. On the other hand, I don't like some of the language Groklaw uses to describe how code got into AIX: they keep saying "donated", implying a release under a GPL license, and I don't read any of it that way at all (but then again, the original pages are no longer available, so I might be missing something). I see ordinary marketroid yak-yak, which might have been written before Legal had made Marketing understand that We Don't Like Those Dudes Anymore. I don't see anything that can't be interpreted in the context of a contract between IBM and SCO to use certain code in certain places, as Forbes says.
Marketing fluff is marketing fluff, but underneath all of it there was an agreement referred to as the "Monterey Project" (or just "Monterey") that SCO pinned great hopes on and that IBM subsequently abandoned. Whether or not that agreement and whatever violations that may or may not have occurred is important to our present situation is beyond my total understanding, but I can certainly see that on the one side Forbes has a story without any real details (alleged emails, "private" interviews) and on the other side Groklaw is guilty of giving the top an extra hard spin.
The eWeek article is probably the most balanced of the lot. It's hard to find truly objective reporting about any of this stuff - there are too many axes in need of grinding. Emotions run high, because there's a lot at stake here. I get very angry when I think that SCO's success could damage Linux - and that just the controversy apparently already has caused damage. But engaging in mud-slinging isn't going to help. Biased reporting won't help us either.
I'd really like to see an intelligent, unbiased assessment of all of this. Trouble is, I'm so laden with emotional baggage myself that I'm not sure I'd recognize it if I found it. I'm for freedom and openness, and if SCO or anybody else has patents or copyrights or even constitutional amendments on their side, I don't care - it's morally wrong, it's going to hurt all of us, stifle innovation and so on. Don't get me started, because I'll rant on for hours.
Sometimes we are just too close to make fair judgements. I know that I am, and I think it's pretty plain that Pamela Jones is also. On the other side, Forbes might be too much a fan of corporate power. Maybe eWeek does have the balanced view I want - I wish I could step far enough back that I could tell.
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More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2011-03-20 Tony Lawrence