Today Two Victims but Tomorrow the World's Millions

Thursday, March 04 2004 @ 01:00 PM EST

Contributed by: PJ

SCO seems to have the PR machine in full gear, trying to persuade the world that they have a case. Both "end user" lawsuits are laughable, in my opinion, and are best used as information as to whose customer you don't ever want to be. These are not Linux lawsuits. They're "Uh oh, I was a SCO customer once" lawsuits. A Groklaw reader informs me that his brother happened to be at DaimlerChrysler when the news of the lawsuit hit, and he says everybody in the department he was in was literally on the floor from laughing so hard. Today, DC had no official comment, of course.

Even Laura DiDio used the words "suicide gambit":

"Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio said SCO has created 'a crazy situation.

    "'It's either a bold bet-the-company move [to add lawsuits] or a suicide gambit,' she added. 'Right now, the majority of the industry views it as the latter.'

   "Bruce Perens, a leader in the pro-free Linux 'open source' community, added: 'This is the end game, and they know it.'"

I never thought I'd see eye-to-eye with Ms. DiDio, but it just happened. Well, not the first part. As Brian Sims, RedHat's business development vice president succinctly put it with remarkable understatement, when commenting on SCO suing its own clients, "It's not a strategy that builds confidence in a customer."

Yes, I heard the news, and I'll write about it probably later tonight or tomorrow. I'm just letting you know, so you'll know you don't need to email me any more about it, although I appreciate all the help. Also, I want to think seriously about it a bit before I write anything, and I'm researching a few details, trying to decide if this leak is legitimate. Eric Raymond says it is. What I am trying to figure out is, if it is a real memo, as it appears it may be, was it a whistle blower or a deliberate leak? Does SCO have any reason these days to want the world to think Microsoft is backing them financially? It's complex, and since you already know the story, it seems best not to write about it until I have the opportunity to research it more deeply.

Meanwhile, SCO claims it is planning to sue all over the world to set a precedent and convince people they are right, according to a Spanish language website. McBride pretty much confirmed this in the conference call yesterday. SCOSource VP Gregory Blepp just visited Spain to spread some FUD over there. Here's a bit on his trip and their plans after the Novell action is finished, which he says they expect to happen in a matter of weeks (I guess he didn't tell them they just asked for a delay):

"After that lawsuit, SCO will initiate actions against major users of Linux throughout the world, including in Spain, to establish legal precedent, because, explained Blepp, Linux users want legal certainty that SCO is right.

"Gregory G. Blepp said to EFE that SCO is not going to go against home users or educational use, only against large companies and institutions that are getting benefits from Linux without paying. It added that, with these actions, SCO isn't trying to attack open source code, only to defend its rights and that, in fact, it works together on Linux projects like Apache and Samba. He figures that currently there are in the world between 2.5 and 3 million users of Linux who need to pay SCO for a license."

I just thought you guys at Apache and Samba might like to know what he's saying about you.

This sounds like an acknowledgement that they need to work to convince somebody, anybody, anywhere that they have a case.

I guess this means SCO will need to hire lawyers in every country on Earth, if they are telling the truth about their plans. Say, more lawyers fees -- that could impoverish a company mighty fast, unless, of course, they have pals with deep pockets.

Speaking of poverty, Blepp picked the poorest region of Spain to visit, Extremadura, where a wonderful project to make using computers less expensive has been going on. You can read a study on the use of FLOSS on this site:

"Extremadura is the poorest region of Spain, lagging behind the rest of the country in both the economic and technological arena. Though short on financial resources, the region has set very high goals for itself in its Regional Strategy on Information Society. This paper briefly describes the region's strategy and continues to discuss how the use of Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) aids the regional government in achieving its goals.

"In the mid-90s the regional government saw that new information technology could help the Region to overcome its historical “peripheral” situation. One thing the region did not lack was ambition. The only problem was how to make that ambition a reality using the scarce financial resources that were available.

"Two formal objectives were presented by the strategy:

1. Accessibility for all; Internet as a public service; and

2. Stimulation of technological literacy"

You can read about the LinEX project on that page. Or on their homepage

Maybe SCO figures folks in other lands may not have as powerful laws. Maybe it's beginning to dawn on them that they aren't doing so well in the US. Or just maybe they hope nobody outside the US reads Groklaw and will just fold out of fear. If that was Plan A for the US, it didn't work out. Poor pitiful EV1 is getting its PhD right about now in the GPL, I'm thinking. But there hasn't been a serious demand for licenses here.

Groklaw does have readers all over the world, but only if they read English, so maybe it's time to think about translating Groklaw into other languages, like Spanish? If anyone wishes to do that, note that Groklaw is published under a Creative Commons license, which gives you the right to accurately translate and publish the articles for any noncommercial use. Do ask an attorney in your country first about laws in your area of the world, so you are clear on all that. The fact that I give you permission is just the first step. But I do give you permission.

Here is a translation of the Spanish site. Here's the Spanish for the snip I translated, in case I made any mistakes:

"Tras este proceso, SCO iniciará acciones contra grandes usuarios de Linux en todo el mundo, también en España, para establecer precedente jurídico, ya que, explicó Blepp, los usuarios de Linux quieren tener constancia jurídica de que SCO tiene razón.

"Gregory G. Blepp dijo a EFE que SCO no va a ir contra los usuarios domésticos o educativos, sólo contra las grandes empresas e instituciones que se benefician gratuitamente de Linux. Añadió que, con estas acciones, SCO  no pretende ir contra el código abierto, sino defender sus derechos y que, de hecho, colabora con proyectos Linux como Apache y Samba.

"Considera que en la actualidad hay en el mundo entre 2,5 y 3 millones de usuarios de Linux que tendrían que pagar licencias a SCO."