SCO Reacts to Moglen and a MS FUD Source Confirmed. And How.

Tuesday, November 25 2003 @ 08:38 PM EST

Contributed by: PJ

Reaction to Professor Moglen's paper from SCO has been hilarious. Either that or I'm developing odd taste. This article made me laugh, anyway. Darl reacts:

"'If you want to talk about desperate, it's the Free Software Foundation,' McBride told 'If you go by what it says in the GPL, if you infringe on someone else's code, the only recourse is to either take it out or shut down the distribution. This validates our claims, and their only solution is to shut down Linux. If they shut down Linux, it's an unmitigated disaster.'"

Poor SCO, just can't grok the GPL, no matter how many times we explain. We don't have to shut anything down. If you ever show us the code, we'll gleefully take it out, because we don't want it. Notice you have to show the code first and also prove you own it. You have a fine opportunity to do that in a Utah courtroom on December 5 in the IBM case. Stop horsing around. You knew that, right?

And, Darl, what happens if you infringe on someone's proprietary code? Can you keep on using it? Or do you have to take it out? What's the difference? With proprietary code, you can pay to use someone else's code, if they agree to let you, but if they don't, you have to take it out. With the GPL, if you want to continue to use it, the payment is you must make yours GPL as well, if they are combined into one program, and if you also distribute the result. Or don't steal other people's code in the first place, if you wish to avoid "disaster". How about that for an idea? Maybe Darl has in mind the disaster to SCO if it had to stop using GPL code.

Notice how curt this official statement is -- more like the kind you get from the lawyer of an Enronesque executive the day they announce the arrest and there is nothing to say that will convince anybody:

"'SCO stands by its claims and looks forward to proving it in a court of law,' A SCO representative told"

And the Free Software Foundation is desperate? It looks like Moglen's paper was very effective indeed.

Here are some details about SCO's web services product line. You wouldn't want to get the impression they are in the publicly-traded lawsuit business instead of the software business:

"SCO Group Inc has released more details of its SCOx web services project and released the first fruits of its scheme. . . .

"These all combine to form what SCO calls the SCOx Application Substrate (SAS), a foundation for building web services on top of the operating system. 'A substrate is defined as being a foundation, a material on which another material is fabricated,' said Scott Lemon, SCOx chief architect.

"'Our intention is to create a foundation above the operating system from which you can create applications.' Lemon said the SAS would use virtual machines and web service technologies, as well as cross-platform languages to enable SCO Unix users to create new business applications and invigorate old applications. Further SAS components will include technologies related to web services security, orchestration, and encapsulation, according to SCO."

Fabricated, eh? . . . . Uh-huh.

Notice even in a description of their services offering, the writer uses the word "scheme"? The SCO PR game appears to be kaput everywhere but in financial rags, where hope -- unbridled by actual facts -- springs eternal. I'm starting to lose my respect for Wall Street.

A MS FUD Source Confirmed

Remember back in October we did an article on Megan McArdle called "Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed" in which we outed their sponsors, particularly Microsoft? There is more, much more, revealed by Nicholas Confessore, an editor of The Washington Monthly, who has written an article, "Meet the Press -- How James Glassman reinvented journalism -- as lobbying." He reveals that Tech Central Station, which published Ms. McArdle's article, is not only sponsored by Microsoft and others, as Groklaw pointed out, it is published by DCI Group, the folks who brought us astroturfing and who have done work for Microsoft in the past:

"But TCS doesn't just act like a lobbying shop. It's actually published by one--the DCI Group, a prominent Washington 'public affairs' firm specializing in P.R., lobbying, and so-called 'Astroturf' organizing, generally on behalf of corporations, GOP politicians, and the occasional Third-World despot. The two organizations share most of the same owners, some staff, and even the same suite of offices in downtown Washington, a block off K Street. As it happens, many of DCI's clients are also 'sponsors' of the site it houses. TCS not only runs the sponsors' banner ads; its contributors aggressively defend those firms' policy positions, on TCS and elsewhere.

"James Glassman and TCS have given birth to something quite new in Washington: journo-lobbying. It's an innovation driven primarily by the influence industry. Lobbying firms that once specialized in gaining person-to-person access to key decision-makers have branched out. The new game is to dominate the entire intellectual environment in which officials make policy decisions, which means funding everything from think tanks to issue ads to phony grassroots pressure groups. But the institution that most affects the intellectual atmosphere in Washington, the media, has also proven the hardest for K Street to influence--until now. . . .

"On closer inspection, Tech Central Station looks less like a think-tank-cum-magazine than a kind of lobbying practice. Which makes sense: Four of the five co-owners of TCS are also the co-owners of the DCI Group, the Washington public affairs firm founded by Republican operative Thomas J. Synhorst. TCS's fifth owner is Charles Francis, who is also a senior lobbyist at DCI and is listed on TCS's phone directory. And as it happens, three of TCS's sponsors--AT&T, General Motors, and PhRMA--have also retained DCI for their lobbying needs. (Both DCI's spokeswoman and TCS's chief executive officer declined to be interviewed for this article. However, after I requested comment, the Web site was changed. Where it formerly stated that 'Tech Central Station is published by Tech Central Station, L.L.C.,' it now reads 'Tech Central Station is published by DCI Group, L.L.C.') . . . .

"TCS's articles have also complemented work being done by DCI. During 2000, Microsoft contracted with DCI to perform various services, among them generating 'grassroots' letters opposing a breakup of Microsoft and launching Americans for Technology Leadership, an anti-breakup group funded in part by Microsoft and run out of DCI's office. Meanwhile, down the hall, Tech Central Station went on the offensive, inaugurating an 'anti-trust' section that over the coming months would publish little except defenses of Microsoft and attacks on the software maker's corporate and governmental antagonists, with occasional detours into the subject of lawsuit reform. (Microsoft smartly plugged some of the articles on its own Web site.)"

A lot of the writers, appropriately concerned about their reputations, including Ms. McArdle, are issuing statements that no one told them what to write, as if that resolves the issue. No one, presumably, has to tell you what to write, if they know who you are. And the issue is Tech Central and what kind of hybrid "journalism" it represents. Deltoid, Tim Lambert's blog, has a helpful chart of all the articles Tech Central Station has done on Open Source. Here are some snips he collected from the articles, and both the titles and the quotes give you an idea of the tilt:

"'The Programming Soviet' --'End-users have absolutely no influence over Unix or Open Source software'

'Closing the Door on Choices' -- 'mandating the use of open source just isnít necessary and sets a dangerous precedent'

'California Scheming' -- 'software copyrights to open source advocates are a violation of free speech'

'The Free Software Lunch -- 'The General Public License amounts to an insidious attack on a hybrid system of public and private enterprise for developing software that has served us well'

'Source Socialism' -- 'For many, Microsoftís problem is that it makes successful products'

'Open Agnosticism' -- 'it is hard to see the cooperative effort working over a period of years in an environment in which hardware changes continually and software must be modified in response'

'Open Source and Its Enemies' -- 'Both liberal principles of neutrality and public choice considerations weigh strongly in favor of adopting OSS when thatís feasible.'

'Is the Penguin Contaminated?' -- 'we can expect defiance, not cooperation, on serious issues like intellectual property from the open-source community'

'Why Open Source May Be Doomed' -- 'the object of this lawsuit is not to stop Linux from using the code; itís to stop Linux from eating SCO Unixís lunch. And it seems to me that itís very likely to succeed.'

Check out the blog for actual links to all the articles. This is just to whet your appetite. You will notice one of the articles appears to be positive. On the blog, Julian Sanchez, the author of "Open Source and its Enemies" explains that he saw all the negative articles and he submitted his piece to see what would happen. What happened is they ran his piece but also De Long's negative "Open Agnosticism" in the same issue. There was never such an attempt at such "balance" in prior issues, when only negative articles appeared. Astroturfing is explained well here, where Josh Marshall also confirms that the About Us page for Tech Central Station has now changed:

"The sentence that read ...'Tech Central Station is published by Tech Central Station, L.L.C.' now reads "Tech Central Station is published by DCI Group, L.L.C.'

"It wasn't an accident. It was because this article -- 'Meet the Press' by Nick Confessore -- was about to be published by The Washington Monthly."

Groklaw's nose for FUD is pretty reliable. It's satisfying to have confirmation.