A Bit of the Blarney -- or Worse? -- About "Lost" Code

Saturday, October 23 2004 @ 03:38 PM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

It used to be funny pointing out mistakes in reporters' stories.

But when a reporter prints something that isn't just misinformed but hurtfully inaccurate, I think it's more serious. As you likely know, Maureen O'Gara printed a story about what allegedly was said in the last court hearing between IBM and SCO. That, in and of itself, is ethically problematic, to me, since the court ordered the transcript sealed. The source of her "information" would be whom, would you guess?

It wouldn't surprise me if IBM follows up on that aspect of the matter. I would.

Groklaw had eyewitnesses at the hearing. None of them reports seeing Ms. O'Gara there. Furthermore, none of them heard what she "reports" about IBM supposedly claiming not to be able to find code it was supposed to turn over. Let me repeat that. IBM never said anything like that, according to our eyewitnesses. I absolutely can tell you that the O'Gara story does not match what they heard. They also told me that the screen was placed in such a way that no one in the audience could see it. How then does Ms. O'Gara know what was shown on the screen?

Nor does it make any sense. For starters, IBM said at the hearing that they have produced all the code they have been ordered to produce to date. They have produced all released versions of AIX which they were told to turn over. That isn't even in dispute. The hearing was about whether IBM should now be required to produce more code, now that SCO couldn't find any infringing code in the millions of lines it already received. The judge hasn't decided that issue. Second, SCO's Third Amended Complaint has not yet, to my knowledge, been accepted by the court. Even if we posit that it will be, IBM has not yet even answered it, let alone been found in violation of anything having to do with it or even been accused of such.

I therefore conclude that Ms. O'Gara has been provided with some misinformation, or she has decided to spread a bit of the Blarney sua sponte.

Courts are not fond of Blarney, as it happens. Truth is not a joke to them. I don't know if SCO is behind this and if so whether it's because they see a spin opportunity because the transcript is sealed or for some other motive, so I won't speculate. I do know this: Ms. O'Gara attacks Groklaw at every opportunity, so she reads what we write. In this very article about the court hearing, she writes that our eyewitnesses were impressed by SCO's new lawyer. So she knew that she had available to her other sources of information on what actually happened in that court room. She did not contact me before writing her story.

But here is another issue: This inaccurate report was printed by LinuxWorld. They are responsible for publishing it. Unless they take immediate action to correct, I suggest the only conclusion I can reach is that they are hostile to Linux. If they are hostile to Linux, why would I care to read LinuxWorld?

Happily, Groklaw isn't dependent on ads or on any outside entity, so there is nothing to pressure us to tell you anything but the truth. We are noncommercial and have no ads to influence anything. One way the community supports our work is by showing up at these hearings, so we are not dependent on "reporters" who "report" on events they apparently did not attend and with an obvious, to us, bias. I don't know why Ms. O'Gara loves SCO, but to me it shows.

And at this moment, aren't you glad Groklaw had witnesses there? If Groklaw had not attended the hearing, Ms. O'Gara could write absolutely anything, and with a sealed transcript, who'd know the difference? As it is, Groklaw can stand up and say, No. We were there. It didn't happen that way.

Someday, this transcript will likely be opened to the public, and then we will be able to check for ourselves. In the meantime, you are free to choose who you wish to believe. I know who I believe, because they've reported from prior court hearings and been substantially correct. And Groklaw's eyewitnesses say: this report in Linuxworld doesn't match what they saw and heard and IBM did *not* tell "SCO Court It Can't Find AIX-on-Power Code" in the context of code they were supposed to have turned over.

I have not provided a link deliberately. If you wish to read her article, you can find it, I'm sure by a Google search or off of Slashdot, since they made what I consider the unfortunate editorial decision to give the story more widespread readership than it otherwise would have received.


LinuxWorld has put out a statement that Maureen O'Gara stands by her story and will seek to unseal the transcript, as well as presenting their view of matters at this point, Monday, October 25.