Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 29/08/2003I try and stay away from the SCO Versus The World story, because what can I add to the universal tsunami of criticism that circles the world every time the company does something else beyond belief. This time, though, I'm baffled beyond belief.

Friday 29/08/2003
I try and stay away from the SCO Versus The World story, because what can I add to the universal tsunami of criticism that circles the world every time the company does something else beyond belief.

This time, though, I'm baffled beyond belief.

It's suing because trade secrets have been appropriated. Because they're secret, it won't tell anyone what they are. When it does shyly lift the chemise on a corner of its case, it looks as if it's a block of old code dating back to the birth of Unix, and thus about as secret as the writing on a gravestone. How can no secret be a secret? And if the damages are so horrendous, why doesn't it let anyone fix the problem now?

Then there's the "GPL is illegal" approach, which seems to pivot on the idea that under copyright law, it is not only illegal to make multiple copies of something without permission but that this permission can never be granted. As this would seem to make the entire software industry illegal, this might be a bit of a Pyrrhic victory if they win. In the words of the MS-DOS Format command "Are you sure you want to do this? [Y/N]".On the other hand, it would be very, very amusing for all software to be declared illegal. We'd have to start again from scratch, which would be no bad thing. Admittedly, people would starve in the meantime… but progress, eh?

Finally, there's the report in today's Sydney Morning Herald  that SCO "didn't plan" to sue any Linux companies. As various letters threatening, inter alia, billion-dollar lawsuits have already gone out to many Linux companies, this statement would seem to be a mix of hyperbole and paradox. Parabolox, perhaps.

In short: every move SCO has made seems to make no sense whatsoever, and to be riven with internal contradictions and externally ridiculous. I think they've given up on revenue from selling software -- well, would you like to send these people money? -- and on being bought by IBM, and have identified a new source of cash: arts funding. They're putting on a full-blown, post-modern installation exploring and amplifying the basic madness of being a corporation, and in time the great mystery will be resolved as they simply fall apart under their own impossibilities.

They can't really be serious. Can they?

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