% fortune -ae paul murphy

A further note about SCO v. Novell

I see that the jury's decision produced the expected vacuous cheering from the groklaw hordes - but the groklaw people have it backwards: this decision was bad news for Linux and open source advocates.

The reason for this is that SCO's case against IBM is based on the contracts, not the copyrights - the whole copyright thing came up because SCO's lawyers tried to establish a a market value for their claims by having SCO demand licensing fees for the intellectual property they claim IBM let loose.

Now, however, the case has effectively made them real enough that if a company like Microsoft or HP could grab Novell they'd be able to combine these copyrights with SuSe's market position and corporate credibility to quickly erode the lets it pretend its not a license gag supporting both SuSe and Red Hat licensing -and that would enormously weaken not just Linux, but the whole open source community.

As a result the very best outcome Linux advocates can hope for now is that the Judge orders the copyrights transferred to SCO. That moots a couple of the lawsuits, lets most of Novell's directors off the collective hook, takes the copyright issue out of the underlying contract dispute, and leaves Elliot holding some speculative stock that simply didn't pan out.

in the alternative what we're likely to see is a quick move by Novell to unload those copyrights on the open source community, counter moves by Elliot to protect the company's value to an acquirer like Microsoft, and IBM caught between playing white knight for Novell or watching their Linux investment go the way of PC-DOS.

The judge has said he'll hear final briefs on April 16th - I can't wait!

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.