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1/20/2005
03:29 PM
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The Lawsuit Time Forgot

The wheels of justice do, indeed, turn slowly: My grandmother could run flaming circles around the creeping horror that is the SCO-IBM lawsuit. Yet this week, the magistrate presiding over pre-trial discovery in the case threw on the brakes again, granting part of SCO's request that IBM produce all of the code for its AIX and Dynix operating systems.

The wheels of justice do, indeed, turn slowly: My grandmother could run flaming circles around the creeping horror that is the SCO-IBM lawsuit. Yet this week, the magistrate presiding over pre-trial discovery in the case threw on the brakes again, granting part of SCO's request that IBM produce all of the code for its AIX and Dynix operating systems, along with work documents from 3,000 of the 7,200 people who changed or contributed to the platforms' code bases.

I've seen the order described as a "partial victory" for SCO. After reading the relevant bits of the court order, however, I'll go with Groklaw editor Pamela Jones' take on this: "Judges don't get in trouble for ordering more discovery."

In other words, the magistrate would rather oblige SCO's legal weasels today than listen to them whine tomorrow (or next year, or whenever a trial might happen). It's a good idea, but it's futile--SCO's only hope is to fight on until the company bothers (or bores) IBM into a settlement. The fact that SCO cut a deal to cap its attorneys' fees at $30 million, ensuring they lose money during a protracted trial, reminds me of an old gag: a guy holding a gun to his own head, yelling "don't move, or I'll shoot!"

IBM now has two months to deliver the source code and documentation SCO wants to see. SCO will no doubt relish its legal "victory" while selling another $4 worth of software this quarter. The rest of us will go back to waiting for this exercise in greed, stupidity, and malice to take another tiny step.

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