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Grokking SCO's Demise 242

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the remember-that-one dept.
An anonymous reader writes "You have already heard the news that the SCO Group's US$5 billion threat against Linux is effectively finished. It was the Web site Groklaw.net that broke the news and posted the complete 102-page ruling; after that, it was picked up by mainstream media and trade press. In fact, it's Groklaw that has covered every aspect of SCO's legal fights with Linux vendors IBM , Novell and Red Hat and Linux users Daimler Chrysler and AutoZone ever since paralegal Pamela Jones started the site as a hobby in 2003. This feature does a great job of chronicling Groklaws' hand in the demise of SCO's case."
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Grokking SCO's Demise

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  • by twitter (104583) * on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:01PM (#24647371) Homepage Journal

    We just filtered out the partisan crowd noise -- no mistake, this is a pro-Linux crowd -- and dug into that virtual mountain of legal documents. Everything was there, posted, transcribed, organized and searchable. That's why we all picked up the ruling from Groklaw. And that treasure trove of documents is how we know now that SCO is stick-a-fork-in-it done.

    If, after looking at everything carefully, you conclude that the GNU/Linux people were right, how can you call what they say, "partisan crowd noise" ? Perhaps you need to remove that M$ beam from your eye. GNU/Linux people correctly identified the motives, facts and outcome of this trial in days. Then they meticulously documented every bluff, bluster and lie from the SCO/M$ PR people threw out over years in their criminal abuse of the judical system. How can anyone possibly hold the same level of credibility for M$/SCO and GNU/Linux advocates after all of that? This is only something you can do if you are a dedicated MicroSoftologist. It is completely irrational.

  • Gambling problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suck_burners_rice (1258684) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:04PM (#24647429)
    Perhaps instead of expending all that time, effort, money, and resources on suing the whole world (and causing the whole world to expend a similar amount of time, effort, money, and resources to defend itself), SCO should have concentrated on making technically superior products, marketing them effectively, and earning the rewards that come from making good business decisions. But no, they had to go play the lawsuit lottery. Well, playing that lottery is gambling and is no different than going to a casino and throwing millions on a Poker table. Maybe you'll win, but probably you won't.
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:10PM (#24647517)

    Some folks are still willing to see SCO as the 'comeback kids' [sltrib.com] (Found from a Groklaw link from today

    And, of course, McBride is still harping about how misguided all the 'naysayers' are. Ah, corporate message control - so consistent, no matter the insanity of what is said.

    I guess that's the point of freedom - for every choice that can be used to help build something greater, there is also choice to harm others. It's too bad that so much freedom ends up being used to crush the freedom of others for minimal short-term benefit, like those of SCO (which in turn was at least partly on behalf of Microsoft's FUD campaign).

    Ryan Fenton
    Ryan Fenton

  • Re:Groklaw (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:13PM (#24647569) Journal

    Which is why so much energy was spent by SCO and its allies in trying to out PJ whilst simultaneously claiming that she was nothing more than a front for IBM's legal team. That she had the fortitude to withstand constant attack from SCO and its various Wall Street shills, including that lying little piece of shit Daniel Lyons.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:18PM (#24647627) Homepage

    And SCO is a nice pelt to hang on the fence for anyone getting similar ideas. The SCO case was a stereotype of every piece of misinformation MS had ever put out about Linux and they got crushed. It's also a good example for companies thinking about getting in bed with Microsoft, which financed this whole charade. I wonder if Sun will ever live it down that they were part of the clown posse?

    IBM showed a lot of foresight and got to dish out a little payback to MS over the OS2 incident. You can't buy that kind of advertising and then using it to tweak Redmond was priceless.

  • Props to Groklaw... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:21PM (#24647665) Journal

    Pamela has taught us (well, at least myself) quite a few things about tech and the law:

    * Legal matters may be messy, disgusting things, but in a perverse way, being a lawyer or judge often requires as much (if not more) logical and mental discipline than programming ever did.

    * This crap takes time. Five years... five years! Just to throw out what folks who knew better (read: those of us who lived/worked/breathed Linux) saw instantly as an obvious cock-and-bull scam by a dying dot-bust corporation.

    * There's a lot going on behind the curtain. Without Groklaw, Microsoft could have credibly denied being any part of the proceedings, and would've been almost perfectly insulated from the whole SCO mess. Now, they're painted with 98 shades of evil, and the tech community at large** has even more reason to reject them unless absolutely necessary.

    * Most folks think that IT/Tech is pretty insulated and isolated from the usual crap that infects most businesses. Groklaw proves otherwise. As much as we'd like to be otherwise, we're just as mired and smothered in politics and legal crap as any other commercial endeavor.

    I highly recommend Groklaw as a solid starting point for any CS student, perhaps as a semester or two of curricula... just to get the students to realize just what the hell kind of crazy world they're signing on to.

    /P

    ** I mean real techs who use multiple platforms, not "Em-See-Ess-Aaay's" who happily swallow Redmond's Kool-Aid (among other fluids) on a near daily basis.

  • Great job? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PinkPanther (42194) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:23PM (#24647693)

    ... a great job of chronicling Groklaws' hand in the demise of SCO's case

    What is this article doing that is great? At best it is a 100,000 foot view of the past 5 years...but there is no "chronicling" going on.

    The information in this article is barely worthwhile to someone who knows nothing about the SCO case (and that type of person wouldn't care about Groklaw anyways), and has ZERO information in it for everyone else.

  • by retiarius (72746) <retiarius@earthlink.net> on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:25PM (#24647725)

    Although many of us pointed out the question of Novell's
    ownership of the actual copyrights at the outset, why isn't the
    law structured to eliminate much sturm and drang by hoisting
    this test out of the loop as an initial cutoff? Or were
    the parallel lawsuits invoked without common sense
    serialization just done for fun? I suspect the real reason
    is that the motion practice follies made for good
    billable hours...

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:42PM (#24648009)

    I have always wondered who Pamela Jones is. This lady is very meticulous in what she does and I congratulate her. I have done an image search on Google and got some images.

    But I am not sure the images I get in the search actually represent Pamela Jones. Googling my own name returns images other than mine!

    Request: I am looking for a kind slashdotter to help me put a face on the name "Pamela Jones" of Groklaw.net.

    Thanks.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:49PM (#24648131) Homepage

    The real turning point in the case was when IBM decided to fight SCO's claims and put Cravath, Swaine, and Moore LLP on the job. Cravath is very good; they say of themselves "Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is known as the premier American law firm.", and nobody laughs. They're very organized and thorough. Cravath was the first firm to use litigation support systems (developed by IBM for an IBM case). They can't be snowed with documents; they'll put enough people and hardware on the job to deal with truckloads of materials when necessary. At times, the staff for a single case has filled a sizable office building. This is expensive, but it works.

    It works especially well when the other side has voluminous but bogus claims. That's what happened with SCO. All SCO's claims were analyzed by that huge staff, checked, and countered. In the end, SCO had nothing left.

    Groklaw reported on all this, but Cravath really did the work.

  • Oh, I don't think the SEC has even started yet. Those things take time, and the SEC is waiting for the legal fallout to happen first. This is a typical pattern for the SEC as well, where they wait for all of the normal legal evidence to come out in the various lawsuits, and then add the final insult to injury in the end.

    Too bad the SEC couldn't have saved the shareholders (*cough*) some grief by more closely investigating the pump and dump accusations. From what I've seen, besides the compensation on the part of the senior execs at SCO, the only other people who've made money on SCO were those who shorted the stock. Even that wasn't a fantastic deal due to the protracted nature of this legal fight.

    I will say that this company seems like the ultimate zombie that just can't be killed. They've used up at least seven of the nine lives that should have killed them a long time ago, and yet they keep coming back for more. I'm really interested in seeing just how much longer they can last... and wondering if the creditors who are taking over the company ownership need to get their head examined for wanting to continue the lawsuits. Then again, who is so incredibly stupid as to loan money to SCO with the hopes that it will someday be paid back?

  • Re:Gambling problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday August 18, 2008 @02:16PM (#24648551)

    It does look suspicious. But the situation could certainly have come around without Microsoft directing it. Though - Microsoft definitely played a strong role.

    Ransom Love has commented several times that Caldera had been working with a way to leverage their new SCO acquisition to better their Linux business. There had been some talk of using the Unix code to provide a better Linux (possibly including indemnity). But some time after Darl McBride takes the helm, Ransom Love is out (who then cashes out on news of the IBM suit). New leadership - new strategy time.

    Around the same time, Microsoft has been talking about Linux and IP issues. It's labled as typical FUD. But what if it wasn't simply FUD but a public suggestion? An offered business strategy from Microsoft's tactical play book.

    The SCO Group (formally Caldera) has been keen for a new play. Their old strategies have lost their charm. They were jilted by IBM. Their fortunes were tied to industries that have felt the sting of a sluggish economy. They hear Microsoft's words and something strikes a chord - "indemnity."

    Suddenly things are going in very different directions. Microsoft even ponies up for a license. Exactly why is something of a mystery. Maybe it's insurance - Microsoft has toyed with enough Unix and GPL code that there could be easier to buy protection than wonder if something unexpected is coming their way. Maybe Microsoft is really pleased SOMEONE has finally picked up their suggestion and is keen to either support it with cash or lend an air of legitimacy - or both.

    I'm pretty sure Microsoft wasn't unhappy about any aspect of this whole case. But I would expect more evidence to support the idea that they outright orchestrated it. Even if I wouldn't be shocked that such evidence is available to be uncovered.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday August 18, 2008 @02:51PM (#24648989)
    Cravath is impressive. I remember one argument where they gave the judge five reasons they were right. If any of the five were accepted, then they won their argument. They always addressed SCO's every point while SCO at times failed to address IBM's points. There was a few episodes where IBM pointed out the SCO didn't address their points at all but used a maze of circular cross references that led nowhere. [flickr.com] (See Arg 233 -> See Arg 228 -> See Arg 27 -> See Arg 187 -> See Arg 27 -> infinity)
  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Monday August 18, 2008 @03:23PM (#24649349)

    Even Novell didn't know they still owned the copyrights, so anyone "pointing out the question" was simply grasping at straws. You caught one ;)

    Novell, for years, had lost the paperwork and had no idea that it still had any interest in Unixware. All the people that had done the deal were gone, and the current regime spent a lot of time digging up the paperwork to figure out what was going on.

  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel&bcgreen,com> on Monday August 18, 2008 @03:48PM (#24649651) Homepage Journal

    If, after looking at everything carefully, you conclude that the GNU/Linux people were right, how can you call what they say, "partisan crowd noise" ?

    Ain't nothing sacred about being right. People become partisan because we believe that there's something 'right' about that partisan attitude. Sometimes we're right. Sometimes we're wrong.

    PJ is, in this case, both clearly pro-Linux and clearly right. She claims and I believe) that if things were coming out tha would have been clearly bad for the linux side, she would have documented it just as clearly (unhappily but clearly).

    As somebody else intimated, pretending to be unbiased is one of the prime inauthenticities. Journalists (unfortunately) get taught to write like they're dispassionate (no matter how biased they are -- or are told to be -- about what's going on). It really messes up the people who buy that line.

    That's part of the reason why I like (pseudo) amateur rags.... they'll actually say things like "We hate so and so. we think you should to, and here's why (no matter how sucky the reasons why may be). That way, you at least know their bias, and can read around it.

    PJ is about the best I think we can hope for: She's open about her bias and attempting to produce the most clean record possible inside of that bias. Sge states her bias and her opinions, and then gathers together as much of the documentation a spossible so that you can check her opinions against reality.

  • by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Monday August 18, 2008 @04:52PM (#24650509)

    It is perfectly possible to be both correct and partisan noisy at the same time.

    I think the partisan bit may have been to balance out the "LINUX IS A THIEF!!@#OMG!@! YUO OWE US MONEY!!" statements coming out of SCO headquarters.

  • by IntlHarvester (11985) * on Monday August 18, 2008 @05:32PM (#24650945) Journal

    Reviewing code really had nothing to do with the case, except for closed-door stuff with AIX/Monterrey.

    Admittedly when it first started, some felt there might be some meat to SCO's claims and sought to prove that "Unix concepts" were outlined in various published material, ancient Unix versions, and so on. However that entire pursuit turned out to be an intellectual dead-end.

  • by IntlHarvester (11985) * on Monday August 18, 2008 @05:49PM (#24651117) Journal

    Like what?

    Quite frankly, it looked like they were bumbling around with ancient 1980s Unix stuff because by the time of the BSD lawsuits in the early 90s, AT&T/Novell got their IP house in order.

  • by IntlHarvester (11985) * on Monday August 18, 2008 @05:57PM (#24651193) Journal

    PJ is, in this case, both clearly pro-Linux and clearly right. She claims and I believe) that if things were coming out tha would have been clearly bad for the linux side, she would have documented it just as clearly (unhappily but clearly).

    PJ also editorialized quite a bit about general IT and OSS stuff that had almost nothing to do with the SCO case. Furthermore, Groklaw's comments sections were full of slashbot-style "M$-Turd corrupted my DOC file in 1996. waaaaa!" stuff.

    Anyone who doesn't see that Groklaw was full of "partisan noise" is addition to the legal analysis is either off the deep-end or has never really read the site.

  • Re:Gambling problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday August 18, 2008 @06:48PM (#24651721)

    There's never been any mystery in why Microsoft took out a license (the same reason Sun did), they both made use of SCO owned IP. Microsoft has it's Services for Unix that includes a fully licensed System V implementation running on Windows. I don't think there's anyone questioning whether or not SCO had the right to sell System V licenses.

    Its not as simple as you make it sound. Microsoft bought a license (directly from AT&T) in the 1970's for Unix to develop Xenix. Or, more interestingly, Xenix is what Microsoft licensed to various other entities to port to their own platforms - one of which was SCO. It's possible the license Microsoft had at the time was transferred to SCO in the late 80s when MS sold Xenix to SCO. It's also possible Microsoft retained their license. The entity who can best answer this won't. Microsoft has avoided the question.

    So what if they didn't retain that license? That's a clear case for getting a license from The SCO Group, right? Maybe not. Much of Services for Unix comes from BSD and GNU sources. What license was required for that?

    That doesn't mean there's NOT a reason beyond feeding FUD. Unix itself is a fairly convoluted digital bloodline to follow. Xenix actually feeds back in to System VR4. Maybe Microsoft knows of some ugly patent bugaboo hiding out that the public isn't aware of. But it's not apparent. And that's why some people use words like "mystery" when trying to puzzle out what Microsoft got for their purchase price.

  • Not true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FreeUser (11483) on Monday August 18, 2008 @08:23PM (#24652847)

    Most of the unix people seem to be going with Solaris rather than Linux.. Linux is definately around but doesn't seem to be strong in the commercial companies.

    That's so not true it makes me wonder what partisan or corporate bias you bring to the table.

    I've been employed in the financial industry for some years, working for large multinational banks and hedge funds on three continents. While Solaris does have a large installed base, every employer I've worked for, without exception, is actively migrating away from Solaris to Linux. Not all third party packages are ready on Linux yet (Reuters rendezvous and Kondor+ have been culprits in the past for requiring legacy Sun systems we would otherwise have decomissioned), but just about everything UNIX in-house is written to run on Linux.

    Even Virtualisation on Solaris stinks compared to Linux and even *gasp* Windows. Xen and VMWare at least allows for live migration, while Solaris virtualisation won't offer migration capabilities until "sometime mid-to-late next year" (according to the Sun rep I spoke with at a Sun Virtualisation conference in London).

    I'm not saying Solaris is dead, or doesn't have a place in a corporate environment (I administer quite a few Solaris 9 and 10 servers myself), but to claim "most unix people seem to be going with Solaris rather than Linux" implies a lot of wishful thinking, or I suspect a very small, cherry picked sample base.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday August 18, 2008 @09:22PM (#24653385) Homepage
    I seemed to have missed the part about the judge reading Groklaw. What Groklaw did was useful and interesting, but to say they had a hand in the demise of SCO seems a bit over the top.

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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