SCOs Small Victory Will Only Delay Its Defeat

Opinion: All SCO got was the right to look through an insanely large amount of IBM code on what may be the world's largest code-fishing expedition.

Now that SCO has finally won one, should you be any more concerned about using Linux than before?

No, I dont think so.

As John Ferrell, a founding partner of Palo Alto, Calif.-based technology law firm Carr & Ferrell LLP, said, "This must be a saccharine-sweet victory for SCO—certainly a case of be careful what you ask for."

"Now, with access to the 2 billion lines of IBMs AIX and Dynix OS code, SCO must decide whether it can afford to review it all. Not counting the cost of printing, stamping, filing and storing the documents, review will likely exceed 700 lawyer-years, or about a half-billion dollars," Ferrell said.

Since SCOs payment agreement with its main law firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, tops out at $12 million, without taking contingency fees in the event that hell freezes over or SCO wins damages, it looks like SCO may come up a little short.

Heck, SCO is complaining to the court that IBMs discovery demands on SCO for its code are overly broad and burdensome. One wonders how they are going to possibly cope with all of their legal intellectual property demands.

$12 million just doesnt go as far as it used to.

On a more serious note, some folks seem to think that SCO has really won something with this decision.

No, it hasnt.

All SCO got was the right to look through an insanely large amount of code on what may be the worlds largest code-fishing expedition. Remember when SCO "showed" the world its copyrighted code in Linux? Except it really wasnt?

Do you really think that SCO is going to find a smoking gun? After assuring the world that it was all crystal-clear, the company still hasnt shown any proof that anyone outside of SCO stockholders believes there is SCO Unix code in Linux.

Oh, and lest we forget, Novell claims in federal court that, in any case, it, not SCO, owns Unixs copyrights. This case could kill SCOs code claims cold.

Taken all in all, the only thing I see happening as a result of SCOs victory is that the case is going to drag on for years.

Whatever else you may think about SCO CEO Darl McBride, hes a fighter—and hes not going to give up.

Theres still a chance that The Canopy Group, SCOs parent company, might pull the plug on the lawsuit since there was an unexpected management change—OK, lets just call it a coup—and be done with it. But its been a few weeks now, and I havent seen any sign that Canopy is ready to give up.

Come to think of it, trying to stop the SCO lawsuits at this point might be a little bit like trying to steer the Titanic away from the iceberg: It just cant be done.

So it is that I cant find any reason in this decision for customers to shy away from Linux or, for that matter, from IBMs AIX and Dynix operating systems. All signs still point to SCO losing and IBM—and Linux users—winning. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.


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