The cost of SCO

Summary:With the SCO case seemingly falling apart, amid exposs and demands for the unsealing of documents, the time has come for the open source community to count the costs of this affair.And there have been costs.

With the SCO case seemingly falling apart, amid exposs and demands for the unsealing of documents, the time has come for the open source community to count the costs of this affair.

And there have been costs.

The force of the anger against SCO is easy to see each time the company's Web site is defaced. The anger is real because the costs of the suit are real, and are being paid by everyone involved in the open source movement.

Like the Internet, open source is based on idealistic self-interest. It's based on sharing, not selfishness, on the better angels of our nature. The fact that it works for the bottom line is a bonus.

But can we really proceed idealistically when every purchase, every code exchange, and every move your IT department makes involving Linux is dogged by lawyers with questions that, regardless of their merit, have nothing to do with solving the problems at hand?

You use open source in your enterprise because you feel it works better, because it helps you meet the continuing pressure to do more with less. Legal uncertainty, which seems now to be a permanent feature of the open source landscape (especially when patent issues are added to the mix), adds costs to the equation without adding value.

For goal-oriented people, and I think all IT people are essentially goal-oriented, it's maddening.

How do you deal with this uncertainty?How do you deal with the lawyers? (I'm sorry, but braising or sauteing are not the proper answers here.) And do you think there will ever come a day when an enterprise-level IT person, involved with open source, can proceed without first seeking legal advice?

Topics: Open Source

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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