SCO's MIT Mathematicians Go Poof

Monday, August 25 2003 @ 01:38 PM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

Wouldn't you know it? When it rains, it pours. Utah is experiencing flooding rains now too, it seems. What next? A plague of frogs? Seems the MIT mathematicians who allegedly verified the "stolen" lines of code aren't at MIT after all, and SCO is backpedalling, which is causing great puzzlement among some analysts and reporters, according to this story in The Tech:

"The company has so far declined to disclose most of these examples publicly. But it has said that three teams of experts have confirmed its assertions -- including one team of mathematicians from MIT.

" 'They said they hired three separate independent teams of experts to analyze their code, including one from MIT, and that the findings appear to corroborate the fact that the code had been taken from Unix and put into Linux,' said Laura DiDio, a senior analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.

"'It was kind of weird, because they told me they had hired a team at MIT,' said Robert McMillan, a correspondent for the IDG News Service. 'And then they kind of backpedaled.'

". . . 'Chris Sontag told me that [they] had a group of mathemeticians "who were at MIT" working on this,' McMillan wrote in an e-mail after checking his notes. 'In subsequent interviews SCO said that these guys had been at MIT and were no longer there.'

"Paul Hatch, a SCO spokesman, wrote in a statement to The Tech , 'To clarify, the individuals reviewing the code had been involved with MIT labs in the past, but are not currently at MIT. Unfortunately, due to contractual obligations, we cannot specifically name the individuals.' "

Man, those pesky contracts SCO keeps signing that force them not to disclose anything. Maybe they need a new lawyer, who can explain to them that a contract means both sides get to set the terms.

Looks like Ms. DiDio may have cut her vacation off early and is finding this difficult to parse. How about analysts and reporters learn a big lesson from all this: that their job isn't to simply repeat what they are told without investigating and evaluating and asking the other side to comment on a story, so as to get some meat on the story's bones? A lot of them got snookered big time, and their excuse is, "they said"? Clippy tip to Ms. DiDio: It looks like you are trying to decide where to file this. Shall I put it in the "But He Promised He'd Love Me Forever" folder for you?