To Groklaw's 'Pamela Jones': Get Your Facts Straight - InformationWeek

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Commentary
8/14/2007
01:40 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary
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To Groklaw's 'Pamela Jones': Get Your Facts Straight

A misleading article appeared Monday on an anti-SCO Web site called Groklaw run by a blogger who calls him or herself 'Pamela Jones.' Jones tried to pick apart a story I wrote about SCO v. Novell. I need to set the record straight because virtually everything 'PJ' said about my article is wrong.

A misleading article appeared Monday on an anti-SCO Web site called Groklaw run by a blogger who calls him or herself 'Pamela Jones.' Jones tried to pick apart a story I wrote about SCO v. Novell. I need to set the record straight because virtually everything 'PJ' said about my article is wrong.'PJ', or whatever this person's real name is, claimed that a number of specific points I made in the 565-word story were inaccurate, and spent more than 3,000 words trying to prove it. But 'PJ' is wrong on every count except for one, minor numerical detail that I'll get to later.

To show the falsity of 'PJ''s claims, in most cases I need look no further than Groklaw itself. 'PJ' wants more journalists to use the site as a resource, so I'll do just that.

Below are excerpts from my story that 'PJ' says are incorrect, followed by 'PJ''s characterization of them, and my response -- at times taken directly from Groklaw.

PM: "The free software world spent the weekend celebrating…" 'PJ': "Free software was never in the SCO saga."

Groklaw, Dec. 20, 2003: "I noticed an article on something called the Free Software Act, which is currently being drafted by the Free Software Consortium Legal Governing Body. I was interested to note that some brain power is going into figuring out a way to prevent any future SCO-like events."

PM: "A judge nixed SCO's ownership claims over Unix and, by extension, Linux." 'PJ': "SCO never had any ownership rights in Linux, only a claim that it had found some Unix System V code in there.

As I reported, SCO claimed rights over parts of Linux.

'PJ': "The judge didn't rule that SCO has no copyrights."

My story does not state otherwise.

PM: "The decision eviscerates SCO's four-year-old lawsuit against Novell." 'PJ': "SCO filed its lawsuit against Novell in January of 2004 ... so it's not a 4-year-old lawsuit."

It's a lawsuit that is three years and eight months old. Rounding off, it's a four-year-old lawsuit. It's a lot closer to being a four-year-old suit than a three-year-old suit.

PM: "Kimball said that an asset transfer agreement between Novell and SCO did not give SCO ownership over Unix, as SCO claimed. End of story." 'PJ': "It's not the end of the story. First of all, there are Novell's counterclaims, on top of the explanation above."

Groklaw, Aug. 10, 2007: "That's Aaaaall, Folks! The court also ruled that "SCO is obligated to recognize Novell's waiver of SCO's claims against IBM and Sequent. That's the ball game."

PM: "Kimball had previously punted [the copyright] aspect of the case to an arbitrator in France." 'PJ': "Not quite right. First of all, the arbitration request was filed in Paris, but the arbitration itself is in Switzerland."

The body that will arrange and oversee the arbitration, the International Court of Arbitration, is based in Paris. That is the organization to which Kimball "punted" the case.

'PJ': "Kimball didn't punt all copyright issue over to arbitration."

My article does not say otherwise.

PM: "Kimball also ruled in favor of Novell's request that it be allowed to order SCO to drop a lawsuit against IBM in which SCO charged that those parts of Linux that allegedly rip off Unix were contributed to the open source community by IBM." 'PJ': "No. Wrong again. It was ruled that Novell has the authority to waive any breach of contract by IBM and Sequent, which it already did."

Let's turn to Judge Kimball's actual words in the August 10th ruling (as posted on Groklaw): "Novell is entitled to a declaration of rights under its Fourth Claim for Relief that it was and is entitled, at its sole discretion, to direct SCO to waive its claims against IBM."

PM: "It seems likely that [SCO v IBM] will be dropped." 'PJ': "IBM has zero interest in dropping its claims, I'd say. It wants its reputation made whole."

These are predictions about events that haven't yet occurred. So for 'PJ' to present this as a correction is disingenuous. And I stand by my prediction that SCO v. IBM will never get to trial. But we'll see.

PM: "An anonymous blogger who goes by the name 'Pamela Jones' on the anti-SCO Web site Groklaw said over the weekend that he or she would 'eat chocolate' to celebrate Novell's victory." 'PJ': "If he keeps writing that I am anonymous when he knows my real name, can I sue him myself?"

I have no way of knowing whether 'Pamela Jones' is this blogger's real name. He or she refuses to post a picture (Webster's third definition of 'anonymous' is: "Lacking in distinctive features"), divulges few details about his or her background, and has Groklaw registered through a blind, third-party service that is to Internet registration what Swiss banks are to financial transparency.

'PJ': "Groklaw isn't an "anti-SCO site."

Groklaw, Aug. 9, 2005: "It seems SCO would like to muffle all that litigation talk. It's hurting business, don't you know. So now that the rape-and-pillage-litigation business model looks to be falling flat on its face, they'd like to drop the talk of litigation."

Groklaw, Feb. 7, 2006: "I had earlier written that Microsoft was the first to mention indemnification and Linux in May of 2003. I've found an even earlier sighting. Microsoft mentioned it in November of 2002, even before -- and just before -- SCO and the Gang started its attempted Rape-and-Pillage-Linux business model."

Groklaw, Aug. 2, 2004: "SCO is like a toe fungus."

PM: "Judge Brooke Wells last year tossed 187 of SCO's 298 claims in the case." 'PJ': "No. Sigh. She threw out some evidence SCO tried to slip in a back door after discovery was over and said SCO couldn't add new claims ... also, SCO had 294 items, not 298, on its original Final Disclosures list."

Judge Wells' order on June 28, 2006, granted IBM's request to "limit SCO's claims." Throughout the proceedings, IBM's own attorneys have often, and interchangeably, referred to the "items" as "claims." 'PJ' has me on the 294 vs. 298 number. I'll admit I'm off by about 1% on that one -- though the final number was at times in flux.

PM: "If I'm a Linux user, do I really want SCO v. IBM to be called off without a definitive ruling on SCO's claims?" 'PJ': "If I were a betting woman, I'd bet he is a Microsoft man. I bet, too, that his company gets a lot of Microsoft ad money."

'PJ''s clear implication here is that, because Microsoft advertises in InformationWeek, my stories, and those written by other InformationWeek reporters, reflect a bias in favor of Microsoft.

That's a libelous, defamatory, and demonstrably false allegation. Even a cursory glance through recent stories I've written will turn up plenty of articles that are negative on Microsoft. Maybe 'PJ' should do a little more of the sort of research he or she so often accuses journalists of foregoing.

I have worked at InformationWeek for seven years, and I have never seen a single instance, ever, of advertising influencing editorial. It doesn't happen here. If we make a mistake, it's an honest one.

So, note to 'PJ': If you're going to toss out accusations like that from behind your mask of anonymity, you'd better be prepared to back them up.

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