The end of Groklaw

The end of Groklaw

Summary: In a moment of pure selfishness, showing disregard and disrespect to the entire online technology community, the High Excuser for copyright theft herself, Pamela Jones, is closing down Groklaw.No, I don't mean it.

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

In a moment of pure selfishness, showing disregard and disrespect to the entire online technology community, the High Excuser for copyright theft herself, Pamela Jones, is closing down Groklaw.

No, I don't mean it. Pamela Jones — PJ — has been running Groklaw for nearly eight years and, as the calendar strikes eight years exactly, will be shutting the doors and getting on with her life. On Saturday April 9, she posted "I have decided that Groklaw will stop publishing new articles on our anniversary, May 16". That's eight years of hard work, sweating over legal and technical details, and absorbing frequent ad hominems such as that sentence above. And a lot worse.

Groklaw was a reaction to events. A company called SCO decided that Linux infringed its intellectual rights in Unix — or was it a company called Caldera decided that IBM infringed its intellectual rights in Unix? Or that companies using Linux needed a Unix licence? Or...

Even now it's hard to get the facts straight. When companies go wrong and decide to litigate instead of innovate, the fog can be choking. And that's the way they like it, especially when as here the claims are fatuous, flatulent and false. And surprisingly well funded.

But SCO lost, and in the process we learned a lot. We learned that, actually, patience and hard work can win out, even when you're right and even in court. That the world of American intellectual property and contract law, if you're caught up in it and want to get on with life or work, is curiously like being trapped on a marshmallow planet when you're starving for a steak.

We also learned quite how far some would go in spinning the least convincing stances into vitriol: quite why some people said what they did remains unanswered.

And all because PJ said that something's wrong, let's find out why. Without her, I have no doubt, the open source/free software community would look a lot less fearsome to the leathery-winged lawyers of special interests. There'd be less confidence, more despair, and far, far, less legal expertise out here in the wilds.

In an ideal world, Groklaw would have a business model, or at least funding, for a small team to continue its work. PJ says that one of the reasons Groklaw is over is because its work is done and Linux has won — look at the mobile world, look at enterprise computing. Ah, if only. Microsoft still claims — and actively litigates for — IP rights in Linux, and Lord only knows how the Java/Oracle fun will end. We're still in the woods. Groklaw will be most sorely missed, and I hope very much that others will take up the challenge.

But PJ herself has done more than anyone could ask. Those eight years that she spent at the helm were eight years giving us all an education, making a difference, teaching us how the world works — and all she asked in return was truth, fairness and a bit of work digging the fields.

Topic: Emerging Tech

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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  • I've been a follower of Groklaw almost from the start, and can well understand her need for 'retirement'. I know of no other person or organisation that has been so even-handed, clearly separating fact from fiction and from opinion, as well as providing copious references.

    The world is a less safe place without Groklaw.
  • She is very optimistic so I am hoping that she is right. It is true that Linux is everywhere now and the pressure on Microsoft is mounting from all directions. I still worry a little about what other tricks that Microsoft has up its sleeve. They are still registering software patents like crazy and buying up everything in sight dealing with IP rights. But when you think about it, Microsoft really can't continue to force users to use their software, as hard as they might try, so in the end it will ultimately be the user's choice, NOT Microsoft's.
  • We should all be very grateful to PJ and Groklaw, and for her indefatigable efforts on behalf of Linux and open source software. She did a great service to those of us who support choice and the freedom to choose.

    @Rupert. A very nice understated and succinct blog. Pity that all the leeches and hangers on to the software and IT industry can't see it that way. Software and IT development and innovation are the losers and the USPTO fails to do it's duty to sponsor, rather than stifle, innovation.
    The Former Moley
  • PJ has done a lot of hard work, and I think she deserves to take some time for herself. I've been a regular there since May of 2003, and learned a lot.

    As to Microsoft, I predicted in the fall or 2009 that Microsoft had 5 years until they file for Bankruptcy based on information I found in their SEC filings. I've been told I'm crazy, but the numbers do add up. If you want to check out my reasoning, the information is available on my website at:

    Do a search on the term 'Microsoft Death Watch' and it will bring up a list of articles on the subject. I suggest you load up on coffee and munchies before starting to read, there's a lot of them.

    Wayne aka The Mad Hatter
    The Mad Hatter